Liquid Telecom Kenya has partnered with Nakuru County Government to launch high capacity free Wifi in Nakuru. This will see the residents of Nakuru County enjoy a free, fast and reliable public street Wifi connection, enabling rapid access to information vital for economic and educational advancement.
The move comes few months after a deal between Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) and the Nakuru County government was rendered raw. The public-private partnership between the Nakuru County Government and Liquid Telecom Kenya has seen the design and launch of a high capacity Wifi network that covers a 10-kilometre radius from the central business district (CBD) with a capacity of 1 Gigabyte per second (Gbps).
Currently, this network is connected to a 200 Megabytes per second (Mbps) pool that is upgradable to 1Gbps based on demand, which Liquid Telecom will be monitoring and upgrading as the need arises.
Of paramount consideration in the design of the Wifi network was ensuring adequate capacity and seamless connectivity through the use of equipment that will deliver on user experience.
Internet access has been widely tipped to be the key differentiator in Kenya’s economic performance, creating at least 1,000 jobs a month in the business process outsourcing sector since 2013, according to the ICT Authority of Kenya. Recent efforts, driven by public-private partnerships, are expected to raise the country’s Internet access further, from the current 52.3 per cent, as reported by the Communications Authority of Kenya.
Liquid Telecom has put in place outdoor Wifi nodes, which are designed to carry huge capacities with the ability to withstand harsh climatic conditions to guarantee maximum and uninterrupted speeds while surfing. With the built-in meshing technology incorporated in the network systems, users in Nakuru will not experience service interruptions when moving from one point to another within the areas covered in the town.
The network designed by Liquid Telecom Kenya is built around the strategic points accessed by the highest proportions of the town’s population. With 51 nodes installed, the network will serve users in the streets and open public areas such as stadiums and parks. The first phase of the free Wifi project covers the county’s Kenyatta Street, Marikiti Market, the main bus terminus at the CBD, Afraha Stadium, the county headquarters and the Westside Mall, with the second phase expected to cover more streets using street poles and other public infrastructure.
With the uptake of e-learning by various colleges and universities in Kenya and the wealth of knowledge available online, Internet access in academic institutions has fast become a defining factor in the quality of education that students receive.
Academic institutions in Nakuru will also enjoy free Wifi access, among them JKUAT Nakuru Campus and Mount Kenya University. This is expected to increase the use of e-learning, which increases information retention among students by up to 60 per cent, according to the Research Institute of America.
Also expected to be connected to the free Wifi are Naivasha and Gilgil towns, as well as Egerton University in Njoro, which will be connected later in 2015. The free Wifi connection will give users with Wifi enabled devices open access to the Internet with the exception of unlawful activities such as streaming or downloading of offensive content that violates copyrights.
So far, Liquid Telecom Kenya has invested $400,000m in the project, with more set to be invested during network optimization exercises across 2015. The success of the Nakuru Wifi project is key to Liquid Telecom’s strategy of developing viable business models for the sustainable offering of free WiFi in Africa.
The project, a first of its kind in Kenya, will see Nakuru join Kigali in Rwanda and Tshwane in South Africa as one of the first major urban centres in Africa to enjoy access to free public Wifi.