Nairobi Star: No Malice in Cable Breakdown , Says Michael Joseph, Safaricom CEO

SAFARICOM CEO Michael Joseph has downplayed the claims that the rising incidences of severed fiber-optic as are due to industrial sabotage.

Joseph said the breakdown is more accidental than deliberate.

The local terrestrial cable scene was jolted last week when Telkom Kenya, one of the two operators with a national presence, issued a press notice suggesting that its long-haul cable had been cut near Eldoret and that an employee of a rival company, Kenya Data Networks, had been arrested on suspicion of involvement.

Joseph said: "I don't think its sabotage. The cable keeps getting cut even on Thika Road where they are constructing the road."

KDN is the largest wholesaler of cable capacity in the country with a 1500km fiber optic cable running from Mombasa to Kampala, Uganda, along with nearly 1200km of metro-fiber in Nairobi.

Telkom Kenya, riding on its legacy of its fixed-line network from its days as a monopoly operator, has put up two national fiber-optic networks — the government National Fiber Optic backbone and its own national terrestrial network.

This has left the two operators as the only long-haul carriers of data serving other operators such as Sa-faricom, JTL, AccesKenya, Zain and Essar.

A third national network is expected to come from Kenya Power and Lighting which has installed a fiber-cable along its transmission lines to monitor the integrity of its grid.

KPLC received approval from the Communications Commission of Kenya to lease out the excess capacity on its cable to interested telecom operators.

But in the meantime, with the arrival of two sub-marine cables at the coast of Mombasa, competition for clientele has gone a notch higher. Coupled with frequent outages that are
mostly caused by severed cables, suspicion has been rife that sabotage of rival cables is afoot.

In an uncharacteristic move last week, Telkom Kenya sent notice to news-rooms that it suspected its cable had been severed by a rival.

"On Thursday night our surveillance team received a cable cut alarm on the Eldoret airport route," Angela Mumo, TKL's head of communications said. "About 300 metres from this scene, our joint box was broken into and the cable cut was there."

TKL went on to enlist help from police who arrested a KDN employee who was in the vicinity and made no bones about whom it blamed for the alleged sabotage.

But speaking to the Star, KDN boss Kai Wulff expressed surprise that such accusations could arise saying the data firm's network had been the target of at least 22 attacks in September alone costing him millions in credit to clients with whom his company had service-level agreements.

"We don't do sabotage for other people's network," Wulff said.

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