"Never settle for less than your dreams.
Somewhere, sometime, someday, somehow, you'll find them

- Danielle Steel, Bittersweet.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Unlimited Mobile Broadband and Bundled Tariffs in Kenya

On Friday, February 19, 2015, Airtel Kenya unveiled a bundled data + voice + sms package dubbed "UnlimiNET." This was just a day before the scheduled reduction of the data volume in Club 20, from 100MB to 40MB.

Here are the UnlimiNET daily, weekly and monthly packages:

For the purposes of full disclosure, I am a long-time Airtel Kenya customer and I am currently on the UnlimiNET 250 weekly package. 

Bundled packages

That aside, UnlimiNET is not the first bundled tariff from Kenyan telcos. Airtel already has Airtel Tosha, which for a price range of between Ksh 10 and Ksh 100, also has daily, weekly and monthly data+voice+sms packages.

Orange Kenya does have Holla, which for Ksh 10 gives you 10MB, 20SMS off-net, 100 SMS on-net and 180 minutes to call within the Orange network. In addition, there is a similar offer for Ksh 20. It should be noted however, that Orange doesn't offer off-net minutes.

Safaricom's bundled tariff takes the form of daily data for mobile packages, where Ksh 10 gets you 10MB + 10 SMS (on-net). Similarly, 20MB + 20 on-net SMS costs Ksh 20. No off-net voice or sms on this network.

The newbie Equitel, also has data+sms packages as follows:
  • 50MB + 50SMS for Ksh 60.
  • 20MB + 20SMS for Ksh 25.
 The thing to note is that Equitel's bundled offers above have a validity of 1 month, unlike the rest that typically remain valid for only 24 hours.

Unlimited Internet

We all know that absolutely unlimited Internet on a wireless carrier is not practical and isn't a viable business option. For this reason, telcos come up with a fair usage policy (FUP) to forestall misuse of network resources by heavy downloaders who may end up degrading the quality of the shared link with other users on the network. Upon reaching the FUP limit, data is usually throttled to a usable, albeit frustrating low speed.

Safaricom once had Unlimited Internet. It was as follows:
  • 1 day unlimited for Ksh 200.
  • 3 days unlimited for Ksh 500 (weekends).
  • 7 days unlimited for Ksh 1000.
  • 30 days unlimited for Ksh 3000.
This tariff came with a FUP that was twice revised, after which the speed was initially throttled to 512kbps and later the impractical 128kbps. The Unlimited data service was eventually halted thanks to users "abusing" the service by torrenting, running cyber cafes.. which degraded the Internet service quality for all users.

Orange Kenya has Unlimited Internet on GSM both for mobile phones and modems.
For mobile:
  • 1 day unlimited for Ksh 50. - FUP is 100MB.
  • 7 days unlimited for Ksh 249. - FUP is 500MB.
  • 30 days unlimited for Ksh 990. - FUP is 2GB.
The speed is throttled to a painful 64kbps after reaching FUP.

For modems:
  • 7 days unlimited for Ksh 990, FUP 10GB.
  • 30 days unlimited for Ksh 2990, FUP 20GB.
Post FUP speed is 256kbps.

Airtel Kenya's unlimited Internet has been there all along. The post FUP speed is at times quoted as 128kbps or 256kbps. Here are the daily, weekly and monthly packages with the corresponsing FUP data volumes.
  • 1 day unlimited at Ksh 250. FUP 3GB.
  • 7 days unlimited at Ksh 1299. FUP 20GB.
  • 30 days unlimited at Ksh 3499. FUP 30GB.
yuMobile, now owned by Airtel (therefore 3G speeds attained), has Unlimited Internet. It should be noted that the respective bundles expire at midnight and upon reaching FUP, the speed is not throttled. Much worse does happen since the connection is terminated entirely. Packages are as follows:
  • 1 day unlimited at Ksh 39. FUP 100MB.
  • 7 days unlimited at Ksh 250. 
  • 30 days unlimited at Ksh 499. FUP 500MB.

The yet-to-be-launched Equitel doesn't have Unlimited Internet offers.


In view of the foregoing, Airtel Kenya presents the best value for money when you consider data+voice+sms as a package. The catch is that speed is not high everywhere, given low 3G coverage across the country. Orange is a worthy second,

If you're not actively looking for a good deal, where what matters most is high 3G speed and spending large amounts of money is not a problem, Safaricom is your friend. It has the widest 3G coverage and the speeds are great, largely in part to fiber-optic connections to many of the 3G towers. Lack of unlimited Internet also ensures bandwidth hogs keep off the Safaricom 3G network.

* * * 

February is almost coming to an end. It is a short month, but the heat in Nairobi area and other parts in Kenya makes one think it is endless summer in this place. But there's still time for love. Here is Jessica Simpson's younger sister, Ashlee:

Endless Summer