The arrival of the undersea fiber cables in Kenya in 2009 has revolutionized the technology and economic sectors. Kenya is one of very few countries in Africa with a comprehensive framework set up in this regard. Average national download speeds have increased from 670.89 kbps in 2009 to 3,806.03 Kbps in 2011. Further, mobile broadband speeds have also drastically increased while cost of Internet access decreased. Mobile broadband is the ability to access data, voice and video at high speeds over an Internet connection through a portable modem especially a mobile phone. Recently, Safaricom and Orange announced download speeds of up to 21Mbps on their 3G networks .
Network operators such as Safaricom are relying more and more on data to generate massive revenues. According to statistics, mobile broadband providers are making up to 19% of their revenue from mobile data services. It is predicted that mobile broadband can potentially increase national productivity and growth by up to 15%.
Subscribers are now opting to access Internet and other web based services on the go from their cell phones and other portable modems due to the convenience provided by a wide coverage of GSM/3G networks in Kenya. The low bundle rates being offered are also a motivating factor. 1Gb of data cost about Kshs. 2500 last year compared to the current rate (calculated using cheapest combinations) of Kshs. 998.
Innovation is at an all-time high with many local apps for phones being produced and sold on app stores every other day. Social and informative sites like Facebook, Twitter and the blogs are increasingly getting more mobile traffic than desktop traffic while marketing campaigns are slowly being taken to the mobile phone.
It is however disappointing to see the little attention mobile broadband services are being given in terms of research (m-research.) New focus ought to be given to mobile broadband with regards to m-commerce, apps, and other online solutions and more so, on the potential of growth and impact on the country as a whole.