Wholesale Open / Commercial Access the Future of Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Infrastructure in Africa. Case For Kenya

Why Fixed Broadband Investment

The main objective of fixed broadband investments is to promote sustainable socioeconomic development and growth through an increased coverage and take‑up of broadband services. Intervention is needed when there is no sufficient presence or access to adequate infrastructure, resulting in high prices and/or low quality of services.

In more detail, broadband investments generally aim at:

  • Improving access to Internet and digital services for households;
  • Developing new professional opportunities for enterprises;
  • Driving innovation (new and existing businesses);
  • Ensuring equity of access to broadband in rural areas and reducing the digital divide;
  • Increasing productivity for businesses through the use of ICT;
  • Strengthening development and growth of business start‑ups;
  • Promoting efficiency of the public services through digitalized government;
  • Facilitating the provision of reliable digital health, digital education, digital learning, e‑commerce, digital culture services;
  • Strengthening competition in the telecommunication services market.
Last Mile Technology Solutions. Future Proof, QoS, Low OpEx

The LAST MILE: Fiber to the Home (FTTX)

FTTH, or (Fiber-to-the-Home), refers to a broadband network architecture that delivers high-speed Internet, voice, and video services directly to a consumer’s residence via fiber-optic cables. In this architecture, fiber-optic cables run all the way from the central office or data center to the end-user’s location, providing a direct connection without relying on coaxial cables or other technologies that can introduce signal degradation.

The use of fiber-optic cables in FTTH networks provides many benefits over traditional copper or coaxial cables, including faster speeds, higher bandwidth, and greater reliability. The optical signals transmitted over fiber-optic cables can travel longer distances without loss of signal quality, making it possible to deliver high-speed broadband services to remote and rural areas that were previously difficult or impossible to serve.

FTTH networks are increasingly being deployed around the world, as more consumers and businesses demand faster and more reliable broadband services. This is particularly true in countries where the government is actively promoting the deployment of FTTH networks, recognizing the important role that high-speed broadband can play in economic development and digital transformation.

The government of Kenya will lay 52 percent (52%) of the proposed 100,000 kilometers of the national fiber optic cable while the rest (48%) will be done by the private sector, ICT Cabinet Secretary CS ELIUD OWALO has said. The input of the private sector in the government’s transformation agenda is imperative. “When it comes to the 100,000 kilometers of the fiber optic cable, our proposition as the government is that we will do just 52 percent or 52,000 kilometers while we leave the rest to the private sector,” said Mr. Owalo. This project, first announced by President Dr. William S. Ruto a month after he assumed office, falls under the infrastructure pillar of the country’s digital transformation agenda – Digital Superhighway – and is aimed at hastening internet connectivity across the country and making its access stable and reliable.

My Gov, JULY 11, 2023, Issue No. 2/2023-2024

Wholesale Open/Commercial Access FTTX

The objective is a concept proposal for a Public–Private Partnership (PPP) Open/Commercial Access Network. The project is innovatively structured in such a manner that it delivers bundled smart services to Kenyan cities & citizens and maximum values for money to the counties and country as the solution will be deployed on the last mile network of Kenya Power – the power utility company in Kenya serving over 8.9 Million Customers which include Government/ County facilities, schools & hospitals in the 1450 wards in the country.

Fiber to the home (FTTH):

  • Greenfield deployment of this size are few
  • Overhead deployment can significantly reduce cost
  • Consider population density and middle-mile connectivity
  • Mobile broadband (4G/ 5G) in major cities and requires innovation
Infrastructure Sharing Options

Kenya Broadband Infrastructure Value Chain

Broadband Infrastructure Value Chain, Technologies & Reach. Kenya Strategy.
East Africa’s and Kenya’s Submarine cables
  1. Terrestrial Fiber – Submarine & International internet access (TEAMS:11.0 Tbps; LION2:12.33 Tbps; EASSy:27.4 Tbps; SEACOM:12 Tbps; DARE1:36 Tbps; PEACE:96 Tbps). Total Available Lit Capacity – 194.73 Tbps; Total Utilized Bandwidth Capacity – 2.6 Tbps
  2. National backbone and middle mile network – Fiber backbone is an ongoing agenda by GoK.
  3. Last Mile (*Refers to a distance <1km – 5kms*) – Fixed Broadband has not reached most parts of the country; last mile connectivity (fttx) is still a challenge; very high broadband charges in Kenya ; Poor Quality (See: Low Quality and Expensive – (Kenya ranked 106 out of 117)).

The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) concept and structured proposal looks to provide wholesale commercial and open access fiber network on the Kenya Power last mile network (Kenya’s largest energy utility) and will extend high-quality broadband internet to more parts of the country at an aggregated/consumptive demand, providing economies of scale and increased affordability to the public sector and end-users, through scale.

My Gov, SEPTEMBER 12, 2023, Issue No. 11/2023-2024

Open/Commercial Fiber-Optic Cable deployment

An Open Access network can realize increased competition, lower prices and improved products/content/bundles/packages and should be pursued.

Open Access can best be achieved through The consortium ownership of the network as this allows for regulation of Open Access via contracts with the wholesale operator and enhances the ROI of wholesale providers since they don’t have to invest in a network. Furthermore, The consortium has control over the technology platform. Investing in proven technologies that provide capacities for future applications reduces the risk of technologies becoming obsolete (technology risk). Thus, Kenya Power should focus on fiber optic investments/ partnerships as they will provide better long-term diversified returns and the most advanced services for consumers and businesses. A scalable network allows for incremental expansion in terms of new technologies, coverage and speed.

Some of the advantages include:

  • Offering high speed local Internet access will create a disruptive effect in the telecoms market that will lower prices and improve the product offering to consumers as incumbents have to innovate to compete.
  • Employing an end-to-end technology partner ensures integration of all technologies from the end user to the service delivery platform and reduces the risk of incompatibilities and unforeseen budget overruns.
  • Provide network operator has proven track record of managing networks speeds up delivery to constituents and will provide the ability and intelligence to segment and manage traffic, assign different priorities to traffic based on applications or users, manage subscriber service access control, and support billing, traffic analysis, data mining, and more.
  • Beware of pre-existing utilized and underutilized capacity especially in terms of already established broadband solutions.

In conclusion, FTTH in Kenya has numerous benefits, including high-speed internet, improved access to education and healthcare, enhanced e-commerce opportunities, improved communication, job creation, increased productivity, and improved quality of life.

Fiber to the home (FTTH) is an important component of Kenya’s digital strategy infrastructure plan (Digital Superhighway). The plan aims to provide affordable and high-quality internet access to all Kenyans, including those in remote and rural areas, to promote economic growth and development.

The rollout of FTTH aligns with the objectives of the digital strategy infrastructure plan, which includes:

  1. Increasing broadband penetration: FTTH is an important tool to increase broadband penetration in Kenya. With high-speed internet access, individuals and businesses can access a range of online services, such as e-commerce, online education, telemedicine, and remote work.
  2. Improving network infrastructure: The rollout of FTTH requires the deployment of high-quality network infrastructure, including fiber-optic cables and related equipment. This infrastructure can also be used for other purposes, such as smart city applications, which can help improve efficiency in areas such as energy, water, and transportation.
  3. Encouraging innovation: High-quality internet access can encourage innovation and the development of new technologies, applications, and services. This can help create new business opportunities and job opportunities in Kenya.
  4. Bridging the digital divide: The rollout of FTTH can help bridge the digital divide in Kenya, ensuring that all Kenyans have access to affordable and high-quality internet services, regardless of their location or economic status.

In conclusion, the rollout of FTTH is an important component of Kenya’s digital strategy infrastructure plan, which aims to provide affordable and high-quality internet access to all Kenyans. The deployment of FTTH infrastructure can help increase broadband penetration, improve network infrastructure, encourage innovation, and bridge the digital divide in Kenya.

The strategy, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Concept Proposal / Project Structuring, Project Proposal, Financial Model are available and were prepared by WatsupAfrica Consulting

Communications Authority of Kenya; Peter Ndegwa; Mugo Kibati; Ashish Malhotra; Adil El Youssefi; DIGITAL COUNCIL AFRICA; Alex Wachira; Joseph Siror; Ministry of Energy of Kenya; Open Access Data Centres (OADC); International Telecommunication Union; Doreen Bogdan-Martin; Tomas Lamanauskas; IFC Infrastructure; Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development; Eng. John Kipchumba Tanui, MBS ; Global Digital Inclusion Partnership; Broadband Infrastructure Connection; Broadband Equity for All

#DigitalSuperhighway #DigitalDivide #Digitaljobs

Side note: This strategic work began taking shape in 2005/6 (18 years ago) when working on my Masters dissertation titled: Strategy For The Implementation of Wireless Internet Technologies in Developing Countries: The Case For Kenya, 2006. Still enjoying collaborating, learning, & piecing the infrastructure puzzles today. Krisen Moodley University of Leeds

Snippet of Dissertation (2006)