KDN plots KES2.8 billion fibre overhaul to reduce outages

9 Jun 2011

According to Business Daily Africa, Kenya Data Networks (KDN) plans to spend KES2.8 billion (USD31.9 million) over the next three years to overhaul its fibre-optic network; the move is expected to help to reduce service outages for the firm’s largest clients. Bob Lafite, KDN chief technical officer, commented: ‘Part of the upgrade includes the latest technology to improve the self-healing capability of the fibre network. This has been necessitated by the high number of sabotage and construction-related cuts we experience daily’. Once KDN’s upgrade is complete, the network will benefit from increased capacity, resilience and flexibility, incorporating user-friendly line switching and route selection to enable seamless data transmission.

In the short term, KDN has contracted Israel-based infrastructure provider ECI Telecom to install an array of fibre rings in as-yet-unconfirmed locations, with a view to improving continuity and redundancy across its network; the deal is worth KES320 million. Rikus Matthyser, KDN CEO added: ‘This network upgrade, which is part of a larger KES2.8 billion programme, has been put in place to ensure that our customers receive the quality of service that they are entitled to. We have seen an increase in fibre cuts and breakdowns in the past few months’.

Business Daily Africa estimates that a single fibre cut can cost the Kenyan economy as much as KES1 million; recent years have seen fibre-optic sabotage blight the country’s telecoms sector, with Safaricom and Telkom Kenya particularly badly hit by the vandalism of their respective infrastructures. In November 2010 the Kenyan government was believed to be preparing to push through a new amendment to the Information Act, which would reclassify cable vandalism as an ‘economic crime’ – allowing the government to impose harsher punishments on culprits. Under the terms of the plan, telcos found guilty of tampering with their rivals’ infrastructure would be fined KES10 million and see their licences revoked.