A new Safaricom BigBox was launched two days ago to replace the initial BigBox that was launched earlier in May. The old Safaricom BigBox was taken out of the market hardly three weeks into sales due to technical issues that caused glitches with indoor WiFi access. Just like the old BigBox that customers bought for Shs 10,000 one off fee or at Shs 11,000 over a six months monthly instalment, the new Safaricom BigBox also supports WiFi and comes with 4G capabilities, and still supports the free to air television access in addition to the default Internet access. The new Safaricom BigBox however retails for Shs 5,000 (Shs 4,999), which is 50 per cent the cost of the original BigBox.
The slash in retail price was explained by Safaricom has a move to “attract a wider set of users to the product as it is now the lowest priced 4G Wi-fi device”. But don’t rush to buy it just yet.
At the launch of the old BigBox, users of the BigBox were enabled to purchase Internet bundles at the rate of 50GB for shs 4,000, 20GB for shs 2,000, 10GB for shs 1,500 and 6GB for shs 999. Safaricom has reviewed those friendly prices to 30GB for shs 5,999, 15GB for shs 3,199 and 5GB for shs 1,199, terming the old prices as “introductory offer”, an explanation that has been criticized by a friend saying that that is like using customers as Guinea Pigs to test the market. What the price change means is that bundles on the BigBox have become 250 percent more expensive than the previous offering.
The current offering means that accessing Internet via Airtel Unliminet Modem (which can make you lose shs 3,000 if you are not careful) is at least 25 percent cheaper as, to access 20GB Internet that comes with unlimited Internet option once the initial 20GB runs out, you will need to chuck only shs 3,000. If in a way you can double that amount to match the cost of 30GB on the new Safaricom BigBox, you will be able to access 40GB of data.
For pure browsing, the 20GB Internet offered by both Orange and Airtel for shs 3,000 is more than sufficient, thus there will be no need to pay shs 6,000 for a meagre 30GB. If your interest is online TV in addition to the browsing, your monthly data needs will be no less than 370GB, at least 12 times more than what Safaricom is currently offering with the new Safaricom BigBox
370GB is the data needed for one to enjoy a device like Safaricom BigBox which is primarily meant for online TV because to watch a 1080p HD content for one minute, you will have consumed 34MB of data. In one hour of HD streaming or equivalent download, your data consumption shall have been 2040 MB. On the other hand, one hour of normal web browsing without heavy downloads consumes about 20MB of data. If you do the two simultaneously, you will be consuming 2060MB of data every hour on the new Safaricom BigBox. Assuming your normal day consists of watching two hours of TV during the course of the day and four hours at night, then per day you will be consuming no less than 12.36GB of data, a figure that translates to 370.8GB per month.
The cheapest price of data bundles on the new Safaricom BigBox is 200 shillings per GB. Thus the 370.8 monthly GB will need 74,160 shillings. This then means that an average six hours full HD video streaming on the New Safaricom BigBox will require you to part with no less than shs 74,000 every month, and Safaricom has no apology over that. If Safaricom retained the old data prices for the BigBox at shs 80 per GB, then the monthly cost would have been shs 29,664.
Given that there are cheaper data options from Airtel and Orange for pure browsing, and that the New Safaricom BigBox despite retailing for half the price is meant for online television experience, I do not see any rational reason for anyone to consider purchasing the Safaricom BigBox. The old prices of BigBox data bundles were reasonable as I could recommend them for pure web browsing any time.
What this country needs is for an Internet Service Provider like Zuku (which has the cheapest Internet services in the country) to find a way of getting into every estate in Nairobi to offer there shs 4,000 unlimited 10Mbps Internet. I have no less than three friends, Kennedy Kachwanya included, who have moved from their favorable estates to an estate with Zuku Internet. This means that there is a huge demand for unlimited Internet and the ISPs do not want to massively invest to satisfy this demand.
I can confidently say that the first ISP that will offer Internet at the rate of Zuku but in every part of all major towns in the country will turn out bigger than Safaricom. Liquid Telecom, Faiba, and even Safaricom, are you listening?