Loopnet – Free Internet comes to Kenya.
If you have a WIFI enabled phone or computer in Nairobi, you probably have seen at one point or another over the last few months a network called Loopnet that offers free internet access. I had planned to write here about Loopnet over a month ago but they had not yet officially “launched” at the time (in fact, they don’t seem to have a web site yet although they are advertising in a certain supermarket chain). Loopnet is apparently being “powered” by Kenya Data Networks (KDN) from what I have heard.
I have used Loopnet on one occasion on Mombasa road but in most other locations in Nairobi it does not seem to work (strange?). However, when it does, its actually free internet access with one caveat – you get ads displayed at the top of your web browser. I think Loopnet is an excellent idea and it represents some innovation in terms of the traditional Internet Service Provider (ISP) business models of billing for usage on either an unlimited monthly basis or on a data capped basis.
My impression is that Loopnet is just getting started and they need to extend their service to many of Nairobi’s suburbs where Internet usage is bound to be very high. I also expect the service will largely appeal to the home user and not necessarily the business user who would want a reliable and fast Internet service, all the time.
I’m keen to see how many users Loopnet will have on their service once its fully operational in most of Nairobi (and the rest of Kenya?) as this would be key to attracting advertisers to sustain their services. In addition, as it always seems to be the case, other ISPs’ in the marketplace are bound to experiment with the ad-driven model for free Internet as well – so only time will tell how it fairs. Meanwhile, enjoy free Internet on Loopnet!