Opinion

Home internet providers must compensate for any downtimes experienced

As someone who works from home, I must have full-time home internet. So it matters very much the provider I choose. This in turn affects the place I live – because I can’t move to a building which doesn’t have my internet provider.

Good internet access is no longer a luxury. It is a basic necessity, and as such I believe we should have set requirements (if I can call them so) on quality, access, and pricing.

I believe the Communication Authority (CA) is doing well on that front. You can report to them issues you may have with different service providers – be it issues with connectivity, quality of service, coverage and much more, and they will follow up on your matter.

That’s all good and nice, but I think there’s one more thing they need to really double down on – especially with home internet providers. That’s the issue of downtimes.

I think we need a set of guidelines on what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Here are some guidelines we can have in Kenya for Home Internet providers:

  • Since downtimes are inevitable, providers must state as a percentage, what downtimes users can expect from their services. This will make it possible to rank different providers based on their downtimes.
  • Providers must notify customers beforehand if they plan to undertake any maintenance that may affect services. They should give a timeline, and provide backup means of use if possible.
  • Providers must compensate users for any extra unexpected downtimes experienced during their month of use. This can be done in the form of extra hours/days of access based on the lost time during downtime.
  • In case of unavoidable loss of service, providers must notify customers of the issue immediately, and give timelines on how fast it will be fixed, and provide backup means if possible, or compensate in hours/days lost.
  • All providers must have easy to reach customer care centres, and users should be able to report issues and get help within a given period of time.
  • At the end of each payment period, providers must share statistics on uptime and downtime, so that this can be compared to the promised numbers. This stats should also detail average speeds during the period so that users can know if they’re getting the speeds they’re paying for all through.

I think such rules will help set apart jokers from real providers. It will help ensure service quality is premium all through and give consumers quality for what they’re paying for.

Home internet is still quite expensive in our region – especially in terms of the speeds we get versus what we pay. I believe such guidelines will ensure service quality grows and make it more affordable to more users.

In Kenya, we have quite a number of home internet providers. The major ones remain Safaricom, Zuku and Jamii Telecoms. These major providers should be the first ones to push for such guidelines to be put in place.

As consumers, we should also remain relentless in asking for better services.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Dickson Otieno

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

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