Here comes SEATEAMS. Now, what next?
Some years ago, it was very popular for the world’s leading tabloids to name a celebrity couples by combining their first names. This lead to the likes of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie being referred to as “Brangelia”, as well as Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez being called “Bennifer”. Well, I’d like to do my own take on the news this week that the TEAMS high speed undersea cable has finally gone live in addition to SEACOM which has been operational for the last couple of months – I think the two could be referred to as “SEATEAMS”. SEATEAMS will eventually have a combined bandwidth capacity of approximately 2.5 Tb/s!
Now, in the aftershock of SEACOM going live and no price reductions in sight as yet for Internet end-users, even as wholesalers have seen bandwidth price reductions of as much as 90%, no one is particularly brimming with joy that SEATEAMS has gone live. Yes, the Internet is indeed faster these days in Kenya for the same prices we have been paying to-date but the high expectations in the market are far from being met. At the same time, even as we expect SEATEAMS to force the Internet Service Provider (ISP) community to lower their prices (at least somewhat), there is the argument that the investments required to “go live” on the cables are indeed substantial. No one should reasonably expect broadband Internet costs to drop off over night, even if the Kenyan Government presses for price controls, as they have already suggested they may do. Its going to possibly take at least 2 to 5 years before we see really inexpensive broadband Internet at our fingertips.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see where SEATEAMS will be in a year’s time in terms of Internet speeds, reliability and pricing. What will be even more interesting is when SEATEAMS is joined by the EASSy and LION undersea high speed cables within the next couple of years. SEATEAMS will then evolve into “SEALIONTEAMSy” Its hard to imagine that Kenya will be able to consume all of that deliciously fast Internet bandwidth, which makes one wonder if the investors behind the cables will be able to recoup their massive outlays within a reasonable period of time. The challenge for the market in Kenya will be to find useful and value adding applications of this overflowing bandwidth and make sense of the high speed cables. I certainly hope this will actually happen, and live up to the never ending broadband hyperbole we have been subjected for the last year or so.