Since January this year I have mostly been on the road traveling around Kenya. I have traveled to Eastern towns of Meru, Machakos and Emali, to the coastal towns of Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi, to central towns of Nyeri and Murang’a, to Rift Valley towns of Nakuru, Eldoret, and Kericho, to Western towns of Kakamega, Bungoma and Malaba, and to Nyanza towns of Kisii, Migori, Kisumu and Homabay. While traveling to those towns I have been accompanied by my two smartphones, one housing Safaricom and Airtel numbers and the second housing my Orange number – and from the travel experiences, I have come to the conclusion that Safaricom is currently offering the best mobile Internet in Kenya.
In this forum I have written a great deal on the quality of Internet we get from our mobile service providers. I have said that Safaricom’s Internet offering is unfair, that they have frustrating Internet, and that the experience on Safaricom’s Internet is pathetic. On the other hand I have written of Airtel Internet as the best mobile Internet in Kenya, and when Airtel’s bundle prices are compared against those of Safaricom and Orange, I have made conclusions that Airtel Internet is the most cost effective. For some reason I haven’t written much about Orange Internet except in articles like this where I compare different Internet service providers – and this is because I rarely used my former Orange number for anything other than to take up the extra space provided by my handset. I have since discarded the line to stick with Airtel for calls and Safaricom for Internet and mobile money services.
Also read: How to buy Airtel Airtime via MPESA
As the foregoing paragraph indicates, I have on several occasions attacked Safaricom Internet but praised Airtel Internet, and this was true until Safaricom restructured her Internet bundles in July last year to get rid of the useless night shift bundles thus making her Internet pricing to be competitive and less frustrating, but quality had to wait until after December 2015 when I started realizing dramatic improvements on the quality of their Internet.
The improvement on quality of Safaricom’s Internet come from two fronts: deployment of 4G Internet in some parts of major towns that has helped free up 3G bandwidth, and the commissioning of Yu infrastructures that Safaricom bought when Yu quit the market. I personally praised their decision to purchase the Yu infrastructure as I reasoned that this would give them an edge on quality improvement but ridiculed Airtel for settling for Yu subscribers as this was a clear gamble that would likely flop.
The decision by Safaricom to drastically drop their Internet pricing, aggressively deploy 4G, ensure that 3G Internet is present in every major town and along the major highways connecting those major towns aided by commissioning of the infrastructure they bought from Yu, and upgrading their own masts in various places from 2G to 3G, has indeed enabled the leading mobile service provider to offer the best mobile Internet in Kenya.
Safaricom Internet is not the cheapest mobile Internet in Kenya as for example buying a 30 day bundle worth shs 3,000 will give you 12 GB of data, but for the same price you can buy 20 GB of data from Airtel or Orange and still be able to browse for free when the data expires. Safaricom Internet is also not the fastest in particular places where Airtel’s or Orange’s 3G Internet are stable. But when you move around any town and around the country, the only mobile Internet in Kenya you can rely on to always provide you with 3G access is Safaricom Internet.
It is Safaricom Internet that is able to connect many Kenyans to some high quality Internet wherever they are and to Kenyans who travel around and would like to access some form of assured constant high speed connection to the Internet, it is Safaricom Internet they can rely on.
Price wise, when it comes to accessing Internet at the low price ranges of shs 2000 and below, there is no much difference in cost when the three mobile service providers are compared. The only advantage an Airtel Internet user will have is the option of using Airtel Unliminet offering that allows one to balance on voice calls, texts, and Internet access, but when it comes to pure Internet purchase, Safaricom’s Internet prove to be the cheapest. Although I mentioned that with Airtel Internet one can use shs 3000 to buy 20 GB of data, that data will lock you from using the beloved Airtel Unliminet as I had explained in the article – this is is how you will lose money on Airtel Unliminet – meaning you will be required to spend much more on voice calls.
Across the three mobile service providers, mobile Internet in Kenya is not yet completely stable, reliable and fast enough. On stability, all the mobile Internet services we have will experience seconds of unavailability making it difficult to enjoy Internet services that require constant Internet connection – but in the long run you will be better off with Safaricom as Safaricom will be off less often compared to both Orange and Airtel. When it comes to speed, although Airtel and Orange 3G Internet may appear fast in particular areas due to less network congestion, Safaricom is the fastest overall given that they are the only ones who have wider 4G coverage and have upgraded most of their masts to provide 3G connection.
Now that it is obvious that Safaricom Internet is the best mobile Internet in Kenya, am I saying that you should abandon your Orange Internet or Airtel Internet and go back to Safaricom? Far from it. If you are not very mobile and you live at a place where in the long run the Internet speeds from Orange or Airtel normally outperform Safaricom Internet, and since both Airtel Internet and Orange Internet have price offerings that are generally cheaper than Safaricom’s, then please stick to those mobile Internet providers. However, if you are the type that hops from town to town and you do not mind spending a little extra for a reliable Internet in most parts of the country, then know that Safaricom is currently offering the best mobile Internet in Kenya.