I have always wanted to test Safaricom’s Internet against Orange Internet but when I tried to acquire an Orange line, the frustrations I went through stopped me from pursuing the test. Then months later Equity Bank forced me to acquire their Equitel line that rides on Airtel infrastructure, and this, again, forced me to test their Internet which is basically Airtel Internet.
I am an addicted chess player who constantly plays online chess via chess.com. When in office I would use the office Internet to play the 30 minutes to one hour chess as I work but when out of the office I prefer to play the rapid blitz or lightning bullet timed at five minutes or less…
And I lose most of those games. The reason I lose the rapid chess is not because I am that bad at tactical play but because of the crappy Internet offered by Safaricom. To win rapid chess, and basically any other short timed online game, you not only need to have perfected your gaming skills but you also need Internet connectivity that is fast, reliable and stable.
Early in December I went to spend some time with family in Nakuru. During this time I found myself mostly idle and to kill time I preferred to play the rapid chess as I have indicated. But for some reason Safaricom’s Internet at my place in Nakuru was slow, unstable, and mostly unavailable. After losing six games in a row, I tweeted them:
@SafaricomLtd Your Internet at Racetrack Nakuru is very useless
— Odipo Riaga (@DeKenyan) December 6, 2014
And they replied:
@DeKenyan We are aware of the issue and are working to resolve it soonest. We apologize for the inconvenience caused. ^RO
— Safaricom Limited (@SafaricomLtd) December 6, 2014
I waited for service improvement but no, that wasn’t to be, not even three weeks later when I went back to enjoy my holidays with family.
Before the holidays began I had a trip to Kisumu where I stayed at Sunset Hotel. In this hotel, it wasn’t just the Safaricom’s Internet that was missing but even their network coverage in that area was pathetic. I couldn’t make smooth calls and most of the time I had to look for places with better reception. Friends and customers alike couldn’t get to me whenever they called as Safaricom told them that I was unreachable.
This is when Equitel came to the rescue
Back to when I got frustrated with Safaricom’s Internet when playing chess at my place in Nakuru, my wife told me that recently she had been using Airtel Internet, not because it was fast or stable or reliable (she doesn’t really care about those as she uses Internet mainly to check what’s happening on her Facebook), but because their daily data bundle rates are the best in town. But she didn’t fail to mention that she hasn’t been disappointed in terms of connectivity and general availability of Airtel Internet.
That’s when I remembered that my Equitel line that Equity Bank forced on me is actually an Airtel Internet (and other network infrastructure) service network.
At Racetrack Nakuru, the Internet service available from Safaricom is the EDGE connection. Over the years, I have asked Safaricom to upgrade their Internet service in the entire Racecource Nakuru area and what they have always said is that they are working on it.
On the other hand, although Airtel Internet is not as popular, their 3G (H+ etc) Internet coverage in Nakuru is amazing. There is no place I went to in Nakuru town and immediate environs that I lacked the 3G Internet; not only in terms of availability but also the speed is fast, reliable and stable over a significant period of time.
Then I remembered Equitel while in Kisumu
Afer enjoying majority of wins on my chess games while in Nakuru I switched back to Safaricom on my way back to Nairobi. As Safaricom is my default network, I didn’t switch back to Equitel, not until I again got frustrated with Safaricom’s poor network while at Sunset Kisumu where I remembered how Equitel (Airtel) saved my day.
After switching to Equitel I once again enjoyed excellent network coverage plus stable Internet throughout in Kisumu for the two weeks I was there. At this point, my Equitel line almost became my default number … but given the many years I have spent with the Safaricom line, this switch couldn’t be that simple.
The test in Nairobi
Where I stay in Nairobi there is good 3G Internet by Safaricom. However, without warning at times my time on chess runs out even when the phone shows strong Internet availability. This happens because although Safaricom’s Internet might at times be shown as available, most of the time this availability is just but paperwork … in real sense, the Internet is not available at all.
In addition to this anomally, Safaricom’s Internet constantly fluctuates between 3G (shown as H+) and EDGE (shown as E) not only where I stay in Nairobi but in most parts of the country that has Safaricom’s 3G Internet.
On the contrary, Airtel’s Internet will always be on 3G whenever the 3G Internet is available, unless you decide to access the EDGE Internet via the phone setting intentionally. This is true in every place I have accessed Airtel’s Internet in Nakuru, Kisumu and now Nairobi.
You are better off with Airtel Internet
Given the tests that I have done between Safaricom’s and Airtel Internet in Nakuru, Kisumu and Nairobi, and also given the fact that Airtel Internet is the cheapest in town in terms of data bundles, I can confidently advise you to switch over to Airtel Internet if you are also being frustrated by the unreliable, most of the time unavailable and unstable Internet by Safaricom.
The only issue with Airtel Internet
It is not always that Airtel Internet is available. The beauty of Airtel Internet especially when accessed through Equitel is that when the Internet is not available, the phone’s indicator for Internet availability disappears. At times, the indicator is constantly off and on meaning the Internet is unstable at that point. This however happens occasionally. Rarely, the Internet will totally go off and at this point what you need to do is to delete your Internet setting and receive the settings afresh by sending the word “ALL” to 232.
Enjoy Airtel Internet and Happy New Year to you all.