TESPOK now wants to manage KENIC

About a week ago, I received a press release, which I guess was widely circulated. It was from the Telecommunications Service Providers of Kenya, commonly known as TESPOK.  It was sent by the Access Kenya PR machine, maybe because Kris Senanu, Access Kenya MD is the chair of TESPOK.

Since then, a lot has been said and you can read John Walu’s blog in the nation online and if you are new to matters KENIC and domain names in Africa, you can read some posts I have done over the years.

Back to TESPOK, their concern was that the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) soon to be Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) had not consulted them on the idea of commercialising the .ke domain. The release was responding to a story appearing in the papers to that effect.

Kris Senanu, TESPOK Chair

Kris Senanu, TESPOK Chair

Now, TESPOK sits on the KENIC board, the release clearly indicates that it is one of the founding stakeholders and at the height of the crises at KENIC board, TESPOK gladly took over the technical functions at KENIC. It may well be that TESPOK didn’t want the disruption of services for .ke owners but it may also be that TESPOK was comfortable with the status.There was even a proposal for revenue sharing for performance of technical function.

At the point when it emerged that the new law would change the structure of KENIC, I expected TESPOK to be more vocal and to be the leading light, but maybe its just me, maybe they started the debate earlier.

When I got the release, my first reaction was: What changed at the KENIC board? The balance has been altered.

Then I got to the last segment of the release…. boom….

“Unfortunately, over the last five years interference of CCK, now CAK, in the day to day operations of KENIC has seen the organization experience unprecedented turnover of both Board and staff; with 5 CEO changes. The functions of KENIC have continued to be delivered because TESPOK maintained its commitment to the local industry as per the ICANN Agreement to provide technical and logistical support to the .ke manager.  It is important for CCK/CAK to give the .ke ccTLD manager the opportunity to deliver on agreed key deliverables that have not been met in the last five years. Commercialization is not a solution to meeting the identified and agreed industry gaps within the local internet community.

 TESPOK has both the technical and administrative resources necessary to continue as a sole guarantor of the ccTLD if and when CAK pulls out. It has provided such support in the past. This will evidently lead to consolidating the Internet technical community shared resources under one umbrella body; a move very similar to, the consolidation of the various government agencies handling government ICT deployment and implementation under the Kenya ICT Authority. The scenario would then consolidate KENIC (the .ke manager), KIXP (Africa’s fastest growing Internet Exchange Point) and I-CSIRT (Internet Computer Security Incident Response Team) under the TESPOK stewardship.”

 

The last para is where the weight is, TESPOK wants to handle the .ke registry. It is very clear that they have outlined their capacity. Please note, it says TESPOK can continue as the sole guarantor of the ccTLD, (.KE) and not of KENIC.

Technical capacity? But, KIXP was recently moved to the Liquid Telecom data centre, does it mean the KENIC registry will be moved there too?

There is a registrar organisation known as DRAKE that is represented in the KENIC board, are they ok with this? (Aly Hussein used to be the representative, now I have no idea how to get to the new rep, if you know, please help me 🙂

I am told of  battles of supremacy between DRAKE and TESPOK over who is the industry voice and who is king. There are some who think that registries like .ke thrive because of registrars example Nominet in the UK, while others feel the role of ISPs is vital.

It depends on which camp you are because there are arguments that ISPs have shifted from domain and hosting business and left it to smaller players who make it their core business.

There is no doubt that the KENIC story is convoluted and the decision for CCK to leave KENIC board and be replaced by the ICT Authority doesn’t make much sense. It is the same government, CCK and ICTA are brothers or sisters, whatever they want to do they can, let us not kid ourselves.

CCK says it has extended the comments on the new law by a week and when the time comes for the application process, I wonder whether TESPOK will put in a separate bid or will seek to protect KENIC and have it continue with the functions.

Time will tell…….

 

 

What do you think of Tandaa content grants? (15 marks)

Since 2008, the government through the ICT Board has invested more than $ 6 million in local content generation and if you count the money for software and other services, then its $114 million, as part of the World Bank fund.

Recently Tandaa awards were announced and you can read more from Techweez and in 2008, I wrote a story on the first Tandaa grants of $ 4.1 million.

What do PS Ndemo and Kukubo feel about content generation? Here is a response I got a month ago when doing research on local peering and internet cost reduction issues. I just copy pasted from the email.

From Dr. Ndemo:

Personally I am still disappointed with the speed at which we are developing local content.  By now we should be having local vernacular wikis as a strategy to preserve our cultures.  Universities are still sleeping withe several shareable research yet others cannot access such valuable information.  You cannot locate many places in Nairobi yet this is a good content proposition.  We cannot have these many opportunities with huge unemployment at the same time.  I am happy that GOK has taken lead with open data.

From Kukubo

I don’t know what the growth figures are as evidenced through bandwidth uploads, but I can suggest that  there is growing local content development.

From a user generated content perspective, Facebook would probably be a great driver. Institutional content continues to grow with open data, development of educational and health content.

————

I have not interpreted what it but I guess you can do it better.

Moving on……

If I remember well, part of the reasons we were excited about fiber was that it would lower latencies and better still, it would allow people to generate content and such content would be accessible to people.

Yes, Joe Mucheru of Google argued with significant force of reason that it doesnt matter if content is hosted locally or internationally, because the internet is global. Ali Husein, Kenic board member (or former) termed my post as simplistic, because the hosting business is international and Kenyan government has no business promoting local hosting companies. You can read it all in the comments section in this post and you can read another I have done on the disappointment of local hosting.

Back to the $114 million fund. I know I am simplistic but why invest all that money in content and applications then host it abroad? Yes, there are critical applications and websites that must go on the Amazon or whatever cloud because of SLAs and stuff but is this the case in all the content or majority of it.

So, is Kenya hosting that bad? Why haven’t the grants improved that? Maybe there should be a grant to help this…

For instance, today CCK launched this website, where is it hosted? You have guessed right, not in Kenya, maybe the CCK or the UPDK team could not get Safaricom, AccessKenya, Telkom Kenya or Wananchi group to host it free in their cloud. I am imagining at this rate, all that talk of big cloud content by 2015 is looking very bright.

Well, I just could not let this go….. here is a boring conclusion.  Here is the traceroute of the CCK sponsored site. Check how long it takes and the route it takes…… and we were trying to bring down latencies from 600ms…..

traceroute to www.kenyadisability.or.ke (50.6.2.81), 64 hops max, 40 byte packets

1  192.168.0.1 (192.168.0.1)  1.184 ms  0.854 ms  0.654 ms

2  192.168.1.1 (192.168.1.1)  4.720 ms  1.476 ms  1.442 ms

3  41-139-171-69.safaricombusiness.co.ke (41.139.171.69)  890.652 ms  1033.720 ms  915.801 ms

4  41-203.209-65.safaricombusiness.co.ke (41.203.209.65)  780.050 ms  975.362 ms  686.306 ms

5  41-139-255-18.safaricombusiness.co.ke (41.139.255.18)  948.681 ms  864.720 ms  836.259 ms

6  41.139.255.49 (41.139.255.49)  889.112 ms  909.568 ms  1014.824 ms

7  196.201.222.33 (196.201.222.33)  1051.909 ms  582.662 ms  565.692 ms

8  if-12-1-3.core4.LDN-London.as6453.net (80.231.76.37)  904.593 ms  1070.709 ms  1069.041 ms

9  if-6-1504.tcore2.L78-London.as6453.net (80.231.131.37)  1190.310 ms  1078.289 ms *

10  if-20-2.tcore2.NYY-NewYork.as6453.net (216.6.99.13)  908.698 ms *  1350.263 ms

11  Vlan570.icore1.NTO-NewYork.as6453.net (209.58.26.142)  1177.123 ms Vlan569.icore1.NTO-NewYork.as6453.net (209.58.26.138)  880.283 ms Vlan582.icore1.NTO-NewYork.as6453.net (209.58.26.134)  1013.940 ms

12  pos-1-9-0-0-cr01.newyork.ny.ibone.comcast.net (68.86.86.41)  1174.197 ms *  998.332 ms

13  pos-0-5-0-0-cr01.350ecermak.il.ibone.comcast.net (68.86.88.150)  842.497 ms  864.748 ms Vlan581.icore1.NTO-NewYork.as6453.net (209.58.26.130)  1192.667 ms

14  pos-1-9-0-0-cr01.newyork.ny.ibone.comcast.net (68.86.86.41)  1387.871 ms pos-1-2-0-0-pe01.350ecermak.il.ibone.comcast.net (68.86.86.78)  1493.622 ms pos-1-9-0-0-cr01.newyork.ny.ibone.comcast.net (68.86.86.41)  1246.973 ms

15  66.208.228.150 (66.208.228.150)  1237.928 ms  1067.814 ms *

16  71.18.38.82 (71.18.38.82)  1100.651 ms * pos-1-2-0-0-pe01.350ecermak.il.ibone.comcast.net (68.86.86.78)  1349.609 ms

17  * 66.208.228.150 (66.208.228.150)  1428.182 ms *

18  71.18.38.82 (71.18.38.82)  1464.183 ms *  1434.943 ms

Safaricom to lay own fiber….

I must admit that CJ, the guy who owns Jamii Telecom is a master businessman; he laid fiber in all major towns when companies were wondering whether to do it or not and when others were focussing on the end user market, he focused on the corporates, they hire his infrastructure to push products to the end user.

Having brains with no connections is almost useless and that is why CJ had both. He managed to partner with Safaricom, they did not have to lay fiber of course because they dilly dallied when companies like Wananchi and Access Kenya were laying and also because JTL had country wide infrastructure.

It looked like a great deal, maybe it still is but those who have tried to get fiber from Safaricom will tell you, it takes too long (30 days or thereabouts) for them to survey and deliver fiber which means that prospective customers get frustrated and move on to others.

In the many things I do, I met a frustrated customer who just wanted to know why it takes that long. Even before you ask Safaricom, you also know- if the infrastructure belongs to someone else, then the decision on efficiency is entirely on them coz you can only push them that far.

I am not sure of the financial arrangement but I am sure Safaricom is paying them well to have exclusive use of the infrastructure but it could explain why Safaricom is unable to compete with Wananchi and Access Kenya. JTL recently pushed their fiber to Karen and Valley Arcade but the others are spreading at even a faster pace.

Zuku has been vilified because of crappy customer support and slow speeds in some areas but people also at times do not understand the co-relation between paying lower fees and quality of service, but that debate is for another day.

For the outer areas like Uthiru, kinoo.. etc and other areas where Zuku is not crowded, the people paying 1 or 2k enjoy good service and are happy.

For Safaricom, the low end market is dependent of wimax, and with the spectrum issues, network architecture and the peculiar ways that Kenyans use internet, it cant offer very low prices that compete, for those of us wanting to pay 4k and less for uncapped internet, not the 3G modem.

The only way for Safaricom was to lay their own fiber, which means they can control the speed and efficiency and the costs. Someone told me that laying of the fiber will simply move it from just being a recurrent expenditure to an asset, or something like that, you know accountants, plus I wasn’t listening very carefully 🙂

So, when Safaricom was announcing their results last month, I was following online and I tweeted Bob Collymore asking whether they will stop using JTL fiber once they get they get their own. He said it was not a matter of either or, it was just to increase the options, which is good for end users because it means redundancy.

Without digressing too much, I have always wondered why companies cant just share infrastructure. I will not suggest that the government or city council should have invested in a fiber that all can buy from but just think about the amount of digging you have seen across Nairobi roads for the last four years. The latest was Soliton, laying for Ecofon, a new provider. Don’t forget there is the National Fiber Optic Backbone (NOFBI) that Telkom Kenya manages and sells $50 per km of dark fiber- this should be a post on its own, on how companies expect to access free- talk of “tunaomba serikali” syndrome 🙂

So, I am wondering whether laying of own fiber will make Safaricom compete more in the lower end market. If you are in the upper end, I am sure you are sorted. You can also read any of these posts done before.

You can now expect Safaricom to start offering you connections to your house or small office at 2k…. in two years. I mean good stable service, not modem 🙂