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Ke

BasicsEdit

Kenya has now 3 network operators after YU (by Essar Telekom) has been closed:

  • Safaricom
  • Airtel (formerly Zain)
  • Telkom (formerly Orange)

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz and 3G on 2100 MHz on all three providers. 4G/LTE has started in 2014 with Safaricom on 800 and 1800 MHz and is about to start on the other networks on 800 MHz by the end of 2016.

Coverage is pretty good, except for the very remote areas in the north, but mobile towers are sometimes overloaded, which leads to slow speeds. But the mobile network is rapidly being expanded.

In Kenya mobile phones are often used as a payment method. So advanced payment systems are employed by all three providers for all kinds of payments. Even a first MVNO called Equitel has started in 2014 as a subsidiary of a local bank providing only banking and payment services so far.

Regulations Edit

For the purchase of a SIM card, you officially need to show a Kenyan photo ID or passport as all subscribers need to be registered since 2010. But on the streets, this is not always enforced. The government has released new rules on the use of SIM cards in 2017. Giving a stranger one's phone to make a distress call could now lead to 6 months behind bars and a fine of KES 10,000, if the mobile device has been used to commit a crime. 

The regulator says all Kenyans must only use registered SIM cards as they may be culpable in the event that their number is used in the commission of a crime. When purchasing a SIM card, one should demand that it be registered promptly and receive proof of registration before starting to use the line. This mainly concerns buying SIM cards from hawkers on the street. Officially every buyer must provide a copy of their ID as proof of identity before the new line is registered and activated for use. These guidelines are likely to affect the sale of SIM cards on the streets at between KES 50-100 by sales agents who still hardly request any form of identity from buyers. This warning comes on the back of rising concern over incidents of extortion, killings and kidnappings linked to abuse of mobile phone lines.

SafaricomEdit

Safaricom

Safaricom is the dominant provider in the country. It is co-owned by Vodafone and the public. It has 2/3 of the national subscriber base and the best coverage even in remote areas. Because of the many users, it can be overcrowded and suffer from slow speeds.

4G/LTE has started in 2014 in the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa on 800 and 1800 MHz. This was extended in 2016 to the towns of Nakuru, Elodret, Meru, Kisii and Kisumu. By the end of 2016 further towns are about to follow for 4G and a 80% 3G coverage is intended. Safaricom's payment system is called M-Pesa.

Availability Edit

It is easy to buy or recharge a Safaricom prepaid card nearly anywhere in Kenya. For registration, you should go to one of their or M-Pesa stores. To confirm if you are fully registered, dial *232#. Otherwise, your line can be suspended.

Their only prepaid SIM card is sold for 100 KES. For 4G use be sure to buy a 4G-enabled SIM. New 4G subscribers will get 4 GB of data free for two days to test out the network (promotion until 26/Dec/2016). 

Top-ups can be made with vouchers called Bamba sold everywhere. Value is 5 to 1000 KES and validity ranges from 30 to 120 days.

Data feature packsEdit

The default rate out of bundles is 4 KES per MB. Safaricom offers these new packages for data:

Price Volume Period
daily bundles:
5 KES 7 MB 24 hours
10 KES 15 MB 24 hours
20 KES 35 MB 24 hours
30 KES 60 MB 24 hours
50 KES 150 MB 24 hours
weekly bundles:
5 KES 5 MB 7 days
10 KES 10 MB 7 days
30 KES 30 MB 7 days
50 KES 65 MB 7 days
99 KES 200 MB 7 days
monthly bundles:
250 KES 350 MB 30 days
500 KES 1 GB 30 days
1499 KES 5 GB 30 days
2000 KES 7.5 GB 30 days
3000 KES 12 GB 30 days
3-monthly bundles:
3000 KES 6 GB 90 days
6000 KES 16 GB 90 days
9000 KES 30 GB 90 days

To activate the bundles type *544# or buy them online. You will receive a message informing you of the status of activation of the bundle. You will be able to use the service once you receive an SMS informing you that the bundle has been activated.

Unlimited bundles or night-time rates have been discontiued. To check balance type *144#, to check data balance of bundles *450*1#. You can roll over unused data on 7 day, 30 day and 90 day bundles, if you buy a new one before the old has expired. Safaricom sends you a notification 48 hours before the bundle expires informing you about the expiry of the internet bundle.

Internet settingsEdit

It's possible to obtain the settings automatically by sending an SMS or entering a system command on the phone. But they are also easy to set manually.

  • APN: safaricom
  • Username: saf (not required for Android)
  • Password: data (not required for Android)

More informationEdit

airtelEdit

Airtel
Airtel, owned by Indian Bharti Airtel is the second provider in the country. They won the customers of YU after their closure in 2014 and have now about 20% of the national user base. It's coverage is not as good as Safaricom, but still covers 75% of population in 2016 by 3G. 4G/LTE has not yet started and is announced for the end of 2016 (coverage map).

Availability Edit

Their SIM card is sold in their stores and outlets (Store locator). Airtel welcomes customers topping up airtime worth KES 50 and above on their new SIM card with KES 30 for calls and SMS ‎to any network in Kenya and 30 MB of data valid for 7 days. Customers also get free access to WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter during the same period. Customers who choose to top up airtime worth KES 20 on their new SIM card get KES 10 for calls and texts ‎to any network in Kenya and 10 MB of data, all valid for three days and the same free social media use.

Top-ups can be made online by credit card or by vouchers.

Data feature packsEdit

Weekly bundles are sold and for 90 days:

Price Volume Period
weekly bundles:
5 KES 6 MB 7 days
10 KES 15 MB 7 days
20 KES 20 MB 7 days
50 KES 70 MB 7 days
100 KES 140 MB 7 days
90 days bundles:
50 KES 50 MB 90 days
100 KES 125 MB 90 days
250 KES 400 MB 90 days
500 KES 1 GB 90 days
1000 KES 2 GB 90 days
3000 KES 10 GB 90 days
6000 KES 30 GB 90 days
7000 KES 55 GB 90 days

To purchase, dial *544# or go online.

Data-only SIM Edit

For their modem called UnlimiNET they sell "unlimited" data-only bundles:

  • for 24 hours: 99 KES, 500 MB
  • for 7 days: 599 KES, 5 GB
  • for 30 days: 2999 KES, 20 GB

The "unlimited" only refers to WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter & Instagram social media. Other data will be throttled to 256 kbps having reached the quota. To add more data two add-on packs are offered:

  • 1 GB: 199 KES
  • 5 GB: 699 KES

Bundles and add-ons can be purchased by dialling *544# and select unlimiNET modem.

Internet settingsEdit

  • APN: internet

More information Edit

Telkom (formerly Orange)Edit

Telkom-Kenya-Logo

Telkom in Kenya is the smallest provider caring for 15% of the country's users. It was sold by Orange Group to private equity firm Helios Investment Partners in June 2016. Helios holds 60% and the Government of Kenya the rest. They have dropped the Orange brand and adopted Telkom as its new trading name in 2017.

It has the lowest coverage in the country, but because of their few users, it can give great speeds,when you are covered. In 2015 the migration from their old CDMA to GSM network has ended and its CDMA network closed. 4G/LTE has started in the towns of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu and has spread to 17 further towns. 2G coverage is at 95%, 3G at 55% in 2017.

Availability Edit

Their SIM card is sold in their shops and outlets (Store locator). Their standard plan is called Tujuane. If you choose not to use the services for a period of over 180 days after the end of the validity of your last recharge the SIM will be suspended.

Top-ups can be made by vouchers or Pesapoint ATMs.

Data feature packsEdit

Default rate ouside of bundles is 4 KES per MB. They offer these data packages:

Data Time Price
15 MB 1 day 9 KES
40 MB 19 KES
100 MB 39 KES
400 MB 49 KES
20 MB 7 days 19 KES
80 MB 49 KES
200 MB 99 KES
500 MB 199 KES
2 GB 249 KES
12 GB 990 KES
150 MB 30 days 99 KES
400 MB 199 KES
1.5 GB 499 KES
4 GB 999 KES
6 GB 1499 KES
10 GB 1999 KES
20 GB 2999 KES
100 GB 90 days 8999 KES

A customer can subscribe to the packages by dialing #123#. This short code will open up to a USSD menu that will have various options for various bundle purchases and unsubscription to the bundle.

Balance check is *131# and overuse charged at the default rate.

You can extend the validity of your bundle by purchasing another bundle of equal or higher validity period just before the current bundle expires except the daily offers which can only be extended by another daily offer.

Promotions Edit

For their new 4G/LTE network they give out 1 GB data for free per day on 4G only. Activation of this offer is by *544# and choose the promotion, if you have 4G coverage.

Free 50 MB are awarded to WhatsApp per day. To subscribe dial *544# and select “FREE Whatsapp”. You can call, chat and share videos.

More information Edit

  • APN: bew.orange.co.ke

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