NewsOpinion

Safaricom is destroying Home Fibre with new ‘Fair Usage’ Limits


Recently, Safaricom announced that starting March 2021, there would be changes to their Home Fibre internet packages. The new packages would offer more speeds for the same prices as before with some packages receiving double speeds without changes in price.

Well, that was a totally welcome change, and people everywhere lauded the move. I even said the move would further cement their position as the number one provider of fixed internet services in the country. Little did we know there was a catch somewhere. (There always is, especially with dominant companies).

The company is doing something weird, something I am sure wasn’t there with the previous internet packages. They’re introducing a “FAIR USAGE POLICY“, and it is bad bad bad, especially for people who work from home and rely – solely – on Safaricom’s Home solution for all their needs.

This move changes everything, and for many people, it will be time to scout for better providers.

Here are the new prices and the data caps after which speeds will be slowed down significantly:

Fibre Packages speedsPrice (30 days)Fair Usage Limit
(After this amount of data,
speeds will be slowed down)
Speeds after Fair Usage
Bronze8MbpsKshs 2,900500GB1Mbps
Silver20MbpsKshs 3,9991000GB3Mbps
Gold40MbpsKshs 5,9991000GB3Mbps
Platinum100MbpsKshs 11,9991000GB3Mbps

What is a Fair Usage Policy?

Ideally, ‘Fair Usage’ is an approach a company takes to ensure every customer gets to share a resource equally without others missing out. We’ve seen “fair usage policies” with limited resources like 4G connections where after a certain amount of data usage, your speeds are reduced to a certain level. That reduction in speed is an artificial restriction created by the company to limit a customer from accessing certain internet speeds, so that they do not strain the network and thereby hinder others from accessing the resource.

But, a fixed fibre connection isn’t necessarily that type of connection I would consider in need of having a fair usage policy – especially with the few number of people already onboard in Kenya. This is because unlike a 4G connection that is wireless, quite slow, and with a significantly limited capacity, a Fibre connection uses laid fibre cables that transmit data at the speed of light, capable of offering ultra fast speeds, while handing larger demands.

So it is particularly weird that Safaricom is choosing to introduce a fair usage policy – with data caps at a meagre 500 or 1000GB – while at the same time doubling the internet speeds. But that’s not all!

Worse off is the fact that Safaricom doesn’t offer a dedicated connection with its Home Fibre network. It never has. This article explains Safaricom’s shared connection situation even better.

Normally, what Safaricom Home Fibre customers use is a shared connection. Meaning you share your internet speeds with people using Home Fibre in the same building network. While Safaricom has acknowledged this to be a fact in the past, they’ve never said to what ratio it is shared.

Well, according to the new Terms and Conditions, a single customer’s connections is shared at the ratio of 1:4 households. So with one link, there should be 4 users. This means that at peak usage times, your connection speed can fall down to 25% of what you’re paying for. Admittedly, laying a dedicated connection to every household would be quite an expensive undertaking, so having a shared connection is fine and understandable.

What isn’t understandable, and makes no sense completely is why on top of a shared connection, you’ll get stupid data caps in the name of fair usage! What is Safaricom trying out here? And why are they doing this after doubling their internet speeds while keeping the previous charges?

Well, I have two of theories:

  1. Profits – The company knows it has the most customers, and the money to acquire even more customers, so it is setting a standard to ensure they offer the least, but make the most. Because essentially if you’re paying KES. 3,999 for 20Mbps, you’ll only be getting 1000GB. For Safaricom, that’s a win.
  2. The network can’t handle the demand – This is the least likely of the two scenarios, but let me just list it here: Perhaps Safaricom has signed up more customers than its connection can handle, so to try and save face for periods when internet won’t be as fast as what customers should get, they’ve decided to add a clause that they can use to argue themselves out of issues.

As a customer who has relied on my 10Mbps connection for many, many years, I’d rather pay the original KES. 3,999 a month without data caps, instead of getting a promised 20Mbps connection – that would sometimes be 5Mbps – and that will surely fall to 3Mbps in a few days because I’ll have consumed 1000GB of data.

What are your thoughts on this?

Also, effective March 2021:

  1. There will be a fee of KES. 3,000 with every new Home Fibre sign up.
  2. There will be a fine of KES. 6,500 if you don’t carry your Home Fibre router when you relocate, or if you lose it.
  3. More in the Terms and Conditions page.

Join Telegram Channel

Dickson Otieno

I love reading emails when bored. I am joking. But do send them to editor@tech-ish.com.

30 Comments

  1. This is a unfair move from Safaricom. I had already prepaid for Home Fibre for the rest of the year, and this is not the kind of service I was buying.

  2. Their fibre connection is turning out to be like that of zuku. Slow and sometimes unreliable.

    I was shocked to have poor connection to the extend of not being able to stream on YouTube or netflix

  3. I agree with the author’s stand. I like something being predictable… If I pay 5mbps and it drops to 1, then there is no point of doubling the speed… After all there are different packages depending on ones needs.

  4. My numbers for a normal month:

    1) Download one game on Xbox such as COD 230GB, then download the patches which for COD 2019 was 200GB in month one (More and more games are like this) so I’ll be only downloading one per month now.
    Total so far: 430GB
    2) Family movie time on Netflix, 3 hours per day on 4K, that is 657GB in one month
    Total so far: 1097GB
    3) Kids watch youTube and Netflix, say 3 hours each per day at 1080p (most YouTube and Netflix content), that is 136.8GB per kid). I have two kids so to total
    Total so far: 1360.75GB
    4) Zoom calls (who isn’t doing them these days) are 3mbps, I am on them for at least 2 hours a day so that another 120GB per month but as my wife is also doing them, its another 240GB per month
    Total so far: 1600.75GB
    5) Add another 100GB for OS updates, online gaming, music streaming, work downloads,
    Total so far 1700.75GB per month.

    So just over halfway through a month now, Safaricom will limit it to 3mpbs which means only Zoom calls and no streaming or downloading or no streaming at 4k or 3 streams at 720p

    I pay for the highest package from Safaricom, simply because I know about contention rates on FTTC and I know my requirements on a monthly basis. Now they are limiting the two highest packages at the same level.

    It just seems like someone is Safaricom googled data caps in the USA and applied them without thought or consequence. However if they had of googled a little bit more, they would have found out that those data cap packages for the people who don’t want to pay top dollar for uncapped.

    It would be nearly the same now to get 3 silver packages and bond/switch them over a month, pay nearly the same and get 3TB allowance.

    1. LOL, your calculations are very exaggerated. Check to see if your kids are pirating media/software. Besides Fair Usage has always been there. These caps are better for the 90% of the customers who don’t pirate things.

  5. Wow! The problem with monopolies. Am eagerly waiting for the Telkom/Airtel merger. Hopefully, the new outfit might pose a more substantive competition to sober up the gluttons at Safaricom.

  6. 500GB people i think that is ok for double the speed. How much do you use? For office you wont hit 100GB in a month even with streaming in ok 720p for 24 hrs/day for a month i dont think you will hit 300GB

    1. I don’t consume 1 TB every month, when I do, I can even use over 3TB getting content for my Plex server (as you know, 4K movies are 50-60GB). Safaricom knows people use data a lot, and it wants to cash in. FYI, very few US telcos have 1tb FUP. When in place, they don’t reduce speeds, they send you a bill for extra. Please don’t justify Safaricom conmanship with personal little usage. In many cases I use a little over a TB. I understand that for people who use less than a 100, they don’t seem to understand how people use 1Tb.

    2. This is home fiber we’re talking about! Not fiber business… personally I only do 4k movies, don’t get me started on the downloads!! This new plan Safaricom is coming up with for home usage won’t just work! I mean the home luxury will just be gone… A mere 4k video stream would use up to 7GB of data per hour. We have laptops, phones, kids tablets, CCTV cameras! Whoever advised Safaricom on this must be using the most lethal marijuana ever planted on the planet!!!

  7. Why are you guys arguing like you don’t know how people use internet?

    Deewinc and others, FUP was not there before, I have the PDF with and I can confirm that, I can send it if you want.
    500 GB is significantly inadequate for any average user streaming UHD content. Netflix consumes 7-11GB per hour, amounting to over 500GB if you watch for only 2 hours a day. Kwani you people watch 720p videos?
    Contention ratio applies if network is congested, not after your data cap is used. It was there before, and that’s how it will work even with new speeds.

    1. You’re probably the 10% of Fiber Home users that exceed 1TB of data per month.

      Safaricom says the FUP is in line with usage habits and up to 90% of users hardly exceed 1TB.

      Fewer homes have UHD TVs at present and 720p content is worthy considering how many homes have low quality FHD TVs.

      1. I cannot believe what a telco says because it only cares about its shareholders. If “only a few people exceed 1 TB,” then what is the need for FUP???

        FTTH is mostly distributed in urban areas, where people buy smart TVs. You want to tell me all those UHD TVs being sold on JUMIA, Kenyatronics, Luthuli, etc. are shipped to Uganda? Stop making assumptions without data to support a Telco that is out there to make a profit.

        Have you been following its annual profits? Data’s contributions to profits has been rising yearly, how do you think they plan to increase such revenues? from “10 percent of customers?”

      2. Your assumption is funny. If they have 1000 paying customers and introduce FUPs, they will still remain with the same number of customers. So, that won’t contribute much to boosting profits.

        And all that data profit you see comes from PAYGO bundles and not FTTH. It will take almost 8 years before the investment in FTTH breaks even for Safaricom to claim any profit coming from it. So, it’s 3 ~ 4 more years to go.

        All those TVs you see along Luthuli almost 80% of them have substandard panels. I buy my TVs there and I know it. The kind of tests I conduct on a TV before buying one amuses the traders.

      3. You are still making very wild assumptions. I have tested many TVs myself and I can confirm that only fake brands have fake panel resolution. Really? 80%? Come on ?. Tuko na 4K TVs pia bro.

        Yes, Safaricom is yet to get ROI on FTTH, but every move it makes is geared towards ensuring it makes a profit on FTTH data as soon as possible. Neither of us have been in their board rooms, so it would be imprudent for either of US to argue in their favor considering they are a for-profit business, not a charity.

        And what do you mean they will remain with a 1000 clients? Obviously the affected people will have to look elsewhere, kwani customers are robots? This is not a time to be a fanboy

  8. A fair usage policy could also mean that you don’t get tied to “Contention Ratio” limitations. Safaricom has it at a ratio of 4:1 per connection. With that in mind, it means speeds drop when all four users are online since you’re sharing a connection.

    But with FUP, all of you will be given full speeds. The one that eats through their allocation fast get’s to deal with slow speeds. So, it’s a good thing to get 500GB @2,900/month.

    1. Using your example of 10mbps @3,999, under the contention ratio tier (4:1), you’re only guaranteed 2.5mbps throughout the month and not as you assume.

      Under the new FUP terms, you’re guaranteed 20mbps always for as long as you stay within the 1TB limit.

      Should you exhaust it, you get guaranteed 3mbps speeds, which is still much better than the contention ratio tier of 2.5mbps.

      So, you’re terribly wrong on that. ???

  9. Fair usage has always been there. I think you just found out! Plus it runs across all internet providers not just safaricom. One word #research

  10. This is ok, A normal user in a family(home setup) will not exhaust 1000GB per month. I watch 4K movies(Netflix) and has three smart TVs connected with kids watching cartoons etc,
    Also note some Kenyans get the home fibre and by use of wireless routers and radios can Sambaza this into other buildings making money out of it.

    1. That’s catch.. safcom wants to catch up with people making money out of the fibre redistribution…just like they did with resale of data budles.

  11. I think the increase in speeds gives you higher peak speeds than previously. Suppose whatever ratio is used on the shared network connection for instance 1:4 on a 20mbps connection. Peak hrs you get 5mbps max per home which is 25pc less than was signed up for. With increase in speeds you get higher peak speeds. I stand to be corrected

  12. This is extremely disappointing. Take away the double speeds. Return to the original speeds but DO NOT introduce data caps. That is BS.

    1. The previous arrangement was tied to a “contention ratio of 4:1”. That means you share your connection with 3 other people. So, when all of you are online, speeds drop. But with FUP limits you get to enjoy your allocation at full speed with no contention ratio limits.

    2. Using the example of 10mbps @3,999 (mentioned on the article), under the contention ratio tier (4:1), you’re only guaranteed 2.5mbps throughout the month and not as you assume.

      Under the new FUP terms, you’re guaranteed 20mbps always for as long as you stay within the 1TB limit.

      Should you exhaust it, you get guaranteed 3mbps speeds, which is still much better than the contention ratio tier of 2.5mbps.

  13. Let’s be fair here.. Even zuku have a FUP that is worse than this. The average user would not hit that 500GB cap with normal HD streaming that the cap allows. Even as a heavy gamer who downloads 70GB titles for the ps4 I’ve never reached 500GB in a month. No ISP provides a completely unlimited experience unless you’re willing to pay a lot more for that dedicated experience. Check out US ISPs and you’ll see they do the same.

    1. Remember bundle mwitu….. Same logic is being applied. Data resellers cause data cap. A normal household would barely reach 1 terabyte,unless you are selling your connection to others in your estate.

Leave a Reply

Back to top button