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Telkom Kenya boosts fixed-line service quality

Fixed-line services provided by Telkom Kenya have recently seen their reliability improved due to a new system which diverts calls to another cable if the original is cut.

Developing Telecoms has championed the cause of mobile telephony since the day it was first published, believing that fixed-line had come to the end of its useful life. Well, fixed-line is not going down without a fight. In Kenya, where mobile payments are proving highly successful, a new fixed-line system has been introduced: any such call that fails because the wire has been cut is now diverted to other fixed-line lines which are operating.

Telkom Kenya Ltd (TKL) experienced a monopoly for a long time before mobile entered the scene - and it was clear that KTL is fighting to keep its customers. GSM is a real challenge and, if that is not enough, TKL is convinced that its lines are being physically vandalised, a form of what it calls corporate sabotage.

The new system works on the idea of call forwarding if the line is cut. At this point, the call is directed immediately and automatically to the GSM or CDMA line. There will be no additional charges for any fixed-line customer wishing to make use of this new facility. Billing will be subject to the rates of the original fixed line.

Telkom Kenya CEO Mickael Ghossein stresses that the back-up (known as redundancy) will be available to post-paid residential, SME and corporate clients: “Customers with multiple lines can also have limited redundancy through Orange Fixed Plus or through installation of mobile SIM boxes.”

Last October KTL commissioned a Voice Virtual Private Network (VVPN) to enable the technology needed for the new function. The upgrading necessary cost nearly US$700 million, just part of last year’s US$104 million infrastructure improvements. KTL also intends, by the end of this June, to provide voice and data (double play) and voice, data and video (triple play) via its fixed-line system.

Regarding the sabotage allegations, rival firms have been exchanging claims of sabotage. Mickael Ghossein has stated that losses and expenses incurred directly by the sabotage run to almost US$33 million over the past year alone. This year, he warns, these costs might more than double “given the sensitivity and importance of the installations where such cable cuts have occurred...Vandalism is now taking both a corporate sabotage and national security erosion angle. Now, these two angles can only be fuelled by well collaborated individuals or institutions.”

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