@Faiba4G is the twitter handle for JTL’s Faiba 4G, a product that can prove to be as addictive as Safaricom – impossible to leave once you get used to it. I am affected, and my friend and fellow filmmaker Wilson is also affected. Actually, Wilson is so affected such that an idea of him building a home at a particular location is weighed against the availability of Faiba 4G at that location. This is despite the fact that by the time he probably would be able to build a home at any location, Faiba 4G would have reached everywhere in Kenya, given the speed at which the network is expanding.
The love we have for @Faiba4G, given its pricing and speed, is potentially heart-wrenching. It’s akin to the love a young woman develops for a man she calls first love. Given the rate at which @Faiba4G is doing things wrong, I am afraid my heart is headed for a very painful heartbreak. The wrong things that worry me include:
- Penalizing purchases of data bundles in bulk.
- Rapid expansion
How @Faiba4G is penalizing purchases of data bundles in bulk
The rule of thumb is simple – every time you buy items in bulk, you should spend less per item. It doesn’t matter whether the item is a good or a service. That’s why travelling from Nakuru to Nairobi is averagely Kshs 300 but when you decide to take the same journey by going to Gilgil first, then to Naivasha then to Kimende then to Limuru then to Nairobi you will likely spend more than Kshs 500 on the trip. Also explains why it is cheaper to buy 90 Kgs of sugar in a sack than to buy the same quantity of sugar one kilogram at a time. But Faiba4G has priced its data bundles completely opposite. I have talked about this anomaly in the article The one big blunder JTL made with Faiba 4G Internet but for the sake of the many of you who didn’t see the article, below is a quick recap.
The cheapest data @Faiba4G is offering is the Kshs 50 1 GB data bundle that expires in 24 hours. This package means that one shilling buys you 20 MB data. Not bad compared to what the other telcos are offering. The next packages are the weekly data bundles priced at Kshs 300 and Kshs 500 respectively. The Kshs 300 package gives you 8 GB data while the Kshs 500 package gives you 15 GB data. Going by the data per shilling calculation, we find that the Kshs 8 GB package for Kshs 300 boils down to 26.67 MB per shilling whereas the 15 GB package for Kshs 500 boils down to 30 MB per shilling. So far everything is working just fine. Then we jump to the monthly packages.
The cheapest Faiba 4G monthly package is the 25 GB data offering that is priced at Kshs 1000, and this is where things start getting haywire. Remember, the best data offering we have seen so far is the weekly 15 GB that’s priced at Kshs 500. If you were to double the amount to Kshs 1000, you would have gotten 30 GB data. However, doubling this amount gives you a meagre 25 GB of data. What this implies is that already Faiba 4G is punishing the person who decides to go for the monthly data bundle.
Actually, the person who decides to buy the monthly data, if we were to go by the trend established for the daily and weekly data bundles, should get 35 MB for every shilling spent. This, therefore, means that for Kshs 1000, the person receiving 25 GB ought to receive 35 GB. The question at this point is, why is Faiba 4G punishing the monthly data buyer by denying him/her a whopping 10 GB data?
It gets more interesting when we go up the ladder to Kshs 2000 data package. In this package, instead of one getting the mathematically expected 80 GB data (at 40 MB per shilling), or even the levelled 60 GB data if the 15 GB for Kshs 500 rate is applied, or even the expected 50 GB data if the already punitive 25 GB per Kshs 1000 rate is applied, one gets a meagre 40 GB of data – which is half the mathematical rate that should be got. That is, whereas the bulk weekly purchasers can get up to 30 MB for every shilling, the monthly purchasers are getting a paltry 25 MB and 20 MB for Kshs 1000 package and Kshs 2000 package respectively. I’ll stop this here and show the others in a table format. See below.
In the table above, take a closer look at the MB/Shilling column. It is clear from that the more you spend on data, the less data you get per MB – something that is totally contrary to prudent business practices – practices that ought to obey the economic principle of economies of scale.
Faiba 4G is Stealing data and airtime
Last month I lost 6 GB of data on the Faiba 4G network. This is data that would stream 4 full feature blockbusters at 720p, and I would still have some data left to say hi to friends on WhatsApp, check out memes, and make two to three updates on Facebook. Taken more practically, 6 GB would allow me to research and write articles for this blog site for two straight weeks if I turned away from watching any videos. Losing 6 GB of data is therefore not something to be taken for granted. I lost this data because by the time the data was bound to expire, I still had 6 GB unused. The problem with Faiba 4G is that even when you decide to buy data before the expiry period, the previous data does not roll over to the newly purchased data. They actually arrogantly say so on Twitter.
New bundle bought cannot roll over to previous bundle. ^MM
— Faiba 4G Extreme (@Faiba4G) September 11, 2018
A month earlier I had lost Kshs 800 on the same Faiba 4G. This is because my data had run out, then Faiba went straight to consuming the airtime I had bought without any warning. Kshs 800 is an amount of money that can feed me for four days straight – or take me to a 150-kilometre trip, and back – or buy me airtime I can use for one month for calling.
In regards to not rolling over data, Faiba 4G should know that Safaricom tried that in 2015 and they regretted. In regards to eating up airtime whenever bundles are exhausted, they should also know that the public outcry against Safaricom forced Safaricom to come up with a data manager, thanks largely to an article we had published two years ago to speak against the outright theft.
The rapid expansion of the Faiba 4G
Faiba 4G is expanding way too fast. When they launched in December 2017, @Faiba4G was present in Nairobi, Thika, Machakos, and Nakuru. Hardly 9 months of existence and the network has expanded to over 20 new towns.
Expansion by itself is not a problem, the problem comes when the initial towns are being neglected. For example, Nairobi and Nakuru have witnessed an upsurge of Faiba 4G users, users that end up eating up the available bandwidth. A few weeks ago I was at my friend’s house in Kasarani Nairobi who after asking me to sit down started complaining about the expensive Internet. I asked him why he isn’t on Faiba 4G, and he responded by saying that he is not in the business of registering on slow networks. I immediately took my phone to prove to him just how fast Faiba 4G is. To my disappointment, the Faiba 4G Internet couldn’t open a simple web page like the Google Search page, let alone stream the HD video I wanted to demonstrate the strength and speed of the network with.
Then I travelled back to Nakuru. The story wasn’t different. In as much as I had left the network strong and fast, I couldn’t manage to use Faiba 4G to surf, forcing me to temporarily go back to the outrageously expensive Safaricom Internet. What is happening is that Faiba 4G is aggressively expanding into smaller towns like Nyahururu, towns with very few smartphone users, at the expense of strengthening their networks in Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, and similar major towns. What Faiba 4G ought to do is to foremost ensure the surge in traffic in the initial towns are well served, before they expand to the minor towns. Then, when they enter a new town, they need to know the traffic demand the new town will make on their network, and be ready to service the demand accordingly.
Otherwise, Safaricom may still crush @Faiba4G like the cockroaches they still are.