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Mobile internet demand has gone up 35% as more customers stay home. Customers tap into the Internet to work from home, study from home and access social media and entertainment sites. [Photo/Business Today]

Mobile internet demand has gone up 35% as more customers stay home earning Safaricom a top dollar with the covid-19 coronavirus shake up of how people work.

Safaricom’s internet data consumption has grown by 70% as Kenyans stay at home as one of the measures to check the spread of the covid-19 pandemic.

Mobile data usage has also risen by 35% as customers tap into the Internet to work from home, study from home and access social media and entertainment sites, said Peter Ndegwa, CEO Safaricom.

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“Our support for people to work from home by doubling bandwidth – which effectively means customers are accessing high-speed internet connectivity at half the normal price – has seen double-digit growth in data volumes, demonstrating that more Kenyans are indeed studying, working and connecting with their loved ones from home,” said Ndegwa.

The data shows that traffic on movie-streaming channel Netflix has grown fourfold, from 15Gbps to 60 Gbps.  Gbps, short for Gigabits per second, represents one billion bits running through the system in a second.

For Netflix, this is the equivalent of 20,000 movies streaming at the same second. 

The other most visited site is Facebook which customers use for various purposes including work and social networking.

So far, Safaricom has laid out more than 6,700 kilometres of fibre reaching more than 300,000 homes.

Additionally, mobile Internet is distributed through 5,300 base stations spread across the country delivering 3G and 4G mobile network to 87% of the population. The rest of the population accesses the network on 2G.

“The investment in improving, extending and modernizing the network over the years is paying off and we are able to carry the traffic and ensure that Kenyans remain connected through this period and beyond,” said Ndegwa.

“We have been able to deliver a quality experience on the fixed internet bandwidth in order to facilitate individuals to work from home. Learners are also enjoying free access to educational content on mobile internet whereas university students get concessional rates to facilitate continuous virtual learning in collaboration with learning institutions,” he added.

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Early this month, Safaricom partnered with Eneza Education, Longhorn Publishers and Viusasa to provide free access to educational content for primary and secondary school students studying from home.

“These are difficult times for our country and the world at large and as a company, we are constantly looking at ways of being present for our customers. Through this initiative, we want to ensure that all students can access education content, whether through feature phones or smartphones, and keep up with their studies for the time they will be at home,” said Peter Ndegwa, Safaricom CEO.

The partnership with Eneza Education will see students from grade 4 to form 4 access learning and revision content on the SMS-based Shupavu291 free of charge following a 60-day waiver of the daily KES 3 subscription fee.

Learners are be able to access education content on Shupavu Web, Viusasa E-learning and the Longhorn E-learning portal through the Safaricom network at no data cost, up to 250MB per day, for the next 60 days.

“Eneza Education is excited to partner with Safaricom to make the Shupavu291 learning platform available for free to learners across the country during this time. Our content is delivered via SMS and does not require an internet connection, and this ease of access has seen more than 5.3 million students use the platform,” said Wambura Kimunyu, Eneza Education CEO.

In 2019, Shupavu291, which is accessed via USSD *291# or through the short code 20851, saw 6.2 million quizzes taken and more than 1 million questions asked on the Ask-A-Teacher platform.

The free to access platforms are as below and will also be available on www.safaricom.com/elimu:

Shupavu Web: mwalimoo.com/m

Viusasa E Learning: https://viusasa.com/elimu

Longhorn e-learning: https://elearning.longhornpublishers.com/login/index.php.

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