Recently, Safaricom announced that starting March 2021, there would be changes to their Home Fibre internet packages. The new packages would offer more speeds for the same prices as before with some packages receiving double speeds without changes in price.
Well, that was a totally welcome change, and people everywhere lauded the move. I even said the move would further cement their position as the number one provider of fixed internet services in the country. Little did we know there was a catch somewhere. (There always is, especially with dominant companies).
The company is doing something weird, something I am sure wasn’t there with the previous internet packages. They’re introducing a “FAIR USAGE POLICY“, and it is bad bad bad, especially for people who work from home and rely – solely – on Safaricom’s Home solution for all their needs.
This move changes everything, and for many people, it will be time to scout for better providers.
Here are the new prices and the data caps after which speeds will be slowed down significantly:
What is a Fair Usage Policy?
Ideally, ‘Fair Usage’ is an approach a company takes to ensure every customer gets to share a resource equally without others missing out. We’ve seen “fair usage policies” with limited resources like 4G connections where after a certain amount of data usage, your speeds are reduced to a certain level. That reduction in speed is an artificial restriction created by the company to limit a customer from accessing certain internet speeds, so that they do not strain the network and thereby hinder others from accessing the resource.
But, a fixed fibre connection isn’t necessarily that type of connection I would consider in need of having a fair usage policy – especially with the few number of people already onboard in Kenya. This is because unlike a 4G connection that is wireless, quite slow, and with a significantly limited capacity, a Fibre connection uses laid fibre cables that transmit data at the speed of light, capable of offering ultra fast speeds, while handing larger demands.
So it is particularly weird that Safaricom is choosing to introduce a fair usage policy – with data caps at a meagre 500 or 1000GB – while at the same time doubling the internet speeds. But that’s not all!
Worse off is the fact that Safaricom doesn’t offer a dedicated connection with its Home Fibre network. It never has. This article explains Safaricom’s shared connection situation even better.
Normally, what Safaricom Home Fibre customers use is a shared connection. Meaning you share your internet speeds with people using Home Fibre in the same building network. While Safaricom has acknowledged this to be a fact in the past, they’ve never said to what ratio it is shared.
Well, according to the new Terms and Conditions, a single customer’s connections is shared at the ratio of 1:4 households. So with one link, there should be 4 users. This means that at peak usage times, your connection speed can fall down to 25% of what you’re paying for. Admittedly, laying a dedicated connection to every household would be quite an expensive undertaking, so having a shared connection is fine and understandable.
What isn’t understandable, and makes no sense completely is why on top of a shared connection, you’ll get stupid data caps in the name of fair usage! What is Safaricom trying out here? And why are they doing this after doubling their internet speeds while keeping the previous charges?
Well, I have two of theories:
- Profits – The company knows it has the most customers, and the money to acquire even more customers, so it is setting a standard to ensure they offer the least, but make the most. Because essentially if you’re paying KES. 3,999 for 20Mbps, you’ll only be getting 1000GB. For Safaricom, that’s a win.
- The network can’t handle the demand – This is the least likely of the two scenarios, but let me just list it here: Perhaps Safaricom has signed up more customers than its connection can handle, so to try and save face for periods when internet won’t be as fast as what customers should get, they’ve decided to add a clause that they can use to argue themselves out of issues.
As a customer who has relied on my 10Mbps connection for many, many years, I’d rather pay the original KES. 3,999 a month without data caps, instead of getting a promised 20Mbps connection – that would sometimes be 5Mbps – and that will surely fall to 3Mbps in a few days because I’ll have consumed 1000GB of data.
What are your thoughts on this?
Also, effective March 2021:
- There will be a fee of KES. 3,000 with every new Home Fibre sign up.
- There will be a fine of KES. 6,500 if you don’t carry your Home Fibre router when you relocate, or if you lose it.
- More in the Terms and Conditions page.