Telkom Wireless


Telkom has finally launched wireless services using RUIM cards that are inserted into handheld or desk phones. The basic wireless phone is a Huawei model that retails for about 9,000 shillings while a line (RUIM card) costs another 1,000.

The service is available in Nairobi only for now – roughly covering the area between Mlolongo to Ruaraka, to Banana Hill to Kikuyu and Langata.

Local calls are billed at 7 shillings per minute, calls to mobile at 24/= per minute (billed every 10 seconds), calls to Flashcom/Popote will be at 14/= and international VIOP 888 will be at 15/= per minute.

Data can be obtained (via dialup) at 3 shillings per minute.

You can use Telkom phone cards (denominations of 200, 500 and 1,000) to top up.

But it appears SMS is only possible with other Telkom wireless phones and billed at 2.50 each. Maybe Safaricom & Celtel have not allowed outsiders’ access to their subscribers.

Verdict: A humble start without much fanfare. Expect some teething pains and the savings and possibilities will take a few months to become apparent. As Shiroh noted, peer pressure and word of mouth are key drivers for people to try new services.

Other Observations

– Did Kenya and other country banks violate laws by sharing bank data with US authorities on SWIFT transactions?
(From Dealbreaker)
– An Islamic bank will open branches in Nairobi and Mombasa by year end running full Sharia principled banking.
– Postbank is implementing a new business model for next year

– The first public Kengen AGM will be held at Kasarani gymnasium in November. I’d have held it at Masinga or Turkwell dams or Olkaria.
– Is Safaricom using VoIP for its help line? When/If you ever get through the call quality is very poor
– Saw a CCK monitoring vehicle driving round the city this week. Perhaps trying to trace some illegal signals?

19 thoughts on “Telkom Wireless

  1. Anonymous

    What’s numbering like? Are all these providers using the CCK numbering system (020 for NBI landlines, 01XX for other towns etc)?

  2. coldtusker

    What is an “illegal” signal? And why should the CCK care?

    VOIP uses “cheaper” internet connections to move data packets to the final destination where they are reassembled & a call placed through a local number completing the last mile.

    Telkom, Safaricom or Popote do not lose any “real” revenue since they get paid for the last mile! At the “old” rates, Kenyans abroad made very few calls thus earning Telkom nothing. At least now they get 7/- per local call!

    If they want folks to call directly, they should LOWER the last mile costs for international calls.

    Calling the USA & UK is cheap coz the last mile Uk/USA hand-off is cheap whereas the Kenyan last mile hand-off is very expensive for international providers e.g. BT, ATT, etc

    Why should it cost only 10/- per minute from cybercafes to call USA/UK while Kenya-bound calls are 25/-? Telkom “charges” 15/- “extra”…

  3. bankelele

    Mwenye Nchi: I believe they will have telkom no’s i.e. 020 (Nairobi), (041) Mombsasa etc

    Coldtusker: illegal signals can eat into other companies (eg Telkom) revenue or jam signals (FM stations). Cybecafes were also using VOIP long before it was licensed

    Kudrinketh: Local calls are pricey. shame that its cheaper to call USA than another network (in Kenya)

    Shiroh: Perhaps we are. But more competion will drive down costs

    Coldtusker: Huawei was the cehapest at 9k. I’m told there are also Nokia and other phone models available

    Kagz: basically no interest on loans, and no financing of haram activities: read on

  4. coldtusker

    Banks – If Safaricom & Celtel reduce the price/cost for providing the last minute then more calls will come thru their network from abroad.

    VOIP (during the days it was “banned”) provided an alternate & forced Telkom to reduce their charges.

  5. M

    Is Telkom aware that popote wireless prepaid data rate is a shilling a minute? Or that its about 5 bob a minute to call another popote subscriber?

  6. 69//

    Coldtusker: Remember that all our international calls come in via satelite and satelite time is prohibitively expensive, so they can only purchase so much capacity. There is very little the phone companies can do until eassy or some other fibre connection is completed.

    M: I think Telkom have a lot of internal issues to sort out before they can even begin paying attention to the popotes.

  7. bankelele

    Coldtusker: Telkom and CCK fought VoIP till they realised it was unstoppable (unless you shut down the net) – now everyone offers it

    M: Telkom has no choice, they are trying anything & everything to survive.
    Thanks for the tip. Am searching around for the best conenction for my homw PC – either safaricom, celtel, popote, flashcom.

    69//: EASSY issues needed to be resolved. It’s shocking that west and south africa have higher connection costs because of how their cable partnership was structured.

  8. coldtusker

    69 –
    Why is it cheaper for VOIP (cybercafe providers) than Telkom?

    Don’t they all use the same technology (Satellites)?

    Can’t Telkom use VSATs instead of the notoriously breakdown-prone Longonot station?

    I do not care how Telkom does it…

    I will gravitate to the BEST provider (reliability+cost)…

    Telkom opposed VOIP & let others take the lead & are now playing catchup!

    All that said… the new man at Telkom (Kirui) has done wonders for the organisation. If Kirui can fire all the “excess” staff by Dec 31 2006, then I see a resurgent Telkom in 2007…

  9. 69//

    coldtusker: VOIP uses a data network for the transmission of voice traffic. Though the data and voice networks may use the same medium, the method of communication is very different. For traditional voice networks, a dedicated pathway is established between the two endpoints so in the case of satelite, a circuit is dedicated to that call for the duration of the call. Data networks break up the data into packets which can be sent sent via whichever circuit is available at the time and data from different communications can share a circuit.

    So the reason why traditional voice is more expensive is that an entire pathway is dedicated to one call while for voip the path is shared. Telkom’s VOIP (or even safcom, celtel etc) will still be more expensive because ultimately they’ll use their voice network to get the call to you while at the cyber, you’re using a purely data network.

    About VSAT, VSATs require a hub somewhere and the earth stations at Longonot and Kericho are such hubs. VSATs are really end-user(supermarkets, banks etc) technologies and are not designed for carriers such as telkom(hmmm, I wonder what safcom and celtel are using for their gateway).

    Of late, Telkom has been having fewer(none?) breakdowns attributable to its earth stations. I think they are just getting congested.


  10. coldtusker

    69 – My point is still valid… COMPETITION is GOOD…

    As an end-user; I don’t care how you get me there, just get me there…

    There is a quality difference between VOIP & Telkom “direct” thus the price differential BUT if Telkom had gotten onto the VOIP wagon 3 years ago, they (& Kenya) would have been in much better shape!

    The government needs to get out of Telkom, take the painful BUT necessary step of firing all the lazy, unmotivated, corrupt, unskilled & surplus employees.

    Keep ONLY the BEST or hire other motivated, hardworking, skilled & honest Kenyans.

    Low telcom costs will boost the economy at least 1% annually thus allowing for further job/wealth creation.

  11. 69//

    ct: I think I have missed your point by a couple of light years. I agree with you entirely.
    However, Telkom issues cannot be solved anytime soon. So in the meantime, Safcom and Celtel already paid a bombshell for their licences and are stuck paying 20m per tower for dozens of these to cover small areas, popote and flashcom are confined to nairobi and rely on telkom for interconnection. The current rates remain as they are. I think Telkom is partly to blame and the CCK is entirely at fault for the current mess.

    If telkom does go countrywide with their Telkom Wireless, what does this mean for celtel and safcom? CDMA is far cheaper to setup that GSM. Just imagine making a mobile call at 7/-

    Why was there no fanfare to this launch. Isn’t this something HUGE?

  12. coldtusker

    CCK’s current director-general was a long-time KPTC employee & ex-MD of Telkom. So the “apathy” is not a surprise! IMHO, Telkom should have hired a “fresh” CEO who was not of the “old” culture. Anyway, he made little progress while at Telkom!

    Kirui, on the other hand, brought a new perspective & has done wonders at Telkom considering the bloated, lazy & unskilled workforce he CAN’T fire for political reasons!

    If Kirui gets his way, I bet Telkom will recover many of the customers who fled coz of poor quality & lack of connections/lines.

    I expect Telkom (if not constrained by politics) will zoom along & prove a formidable competitor to the others.

    If Telkom can supercharge their CDMA business, I think Popote & Flashcom will have it tough.

  13. bankelele

    coldtusker: Use VOIP now either safaricom (30/) or telkom (15/)depending on where I am. The cyber’s are 5 – 8/= but there is less incentive to use them now since the savings are much smaller

    69//: What happened to VSAT? Three years ago, they were bandied as the solution to local data and communications.

    I think safcom and celtel go gateways licenses two months ago

  14. 69//

    Tespok was behind the liberalize VSAT campaign because 3 years ago, Telkom still had its monopoly(they were charging ridiculous rates) and VSAT was the only technology that offered the ISPs an opportunity to bypass Telkom altogether.

    Today, we have KDN, Jamii Telkom and UUNET with international data gateway licenses. Rates have drastically dropped and these companies don’t rely on Telkom infrastructure(they have their own fibre optic and wireless solutions) so the whole bypassing Telkom thing has been already achieved without VSAT.

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