Network Quality
Our network is core to our business. It allows us to differentiate ourselves in a competitive market and is the medium through which we transform lives.
Our network is core to our business. The quality and availability of our network is an essential part of our business since all of the services we provide to our customers are delivered through the network platform. Our network allows us to differentiate ourselves in a highly competitive market and is the medium through which we transform lives.

Best Network …. for You

In response to the new company strategy, we have undergone a major change in approach and mindset this year. Previously, we were a network orientated, technology-led company, but now we are heavily focused on what our users are actually experiencing.
As part of our strategic shift, we revamped and relaunched our Best Network in Kenya (BNK) programme as Best Network for You (BNU). The revamped programme refl ects our move towards delivering an experience that is even more tailored to the specific needs and requirements of individual customers. Our areas of special focus for the year were improving the quality of voice calls and mobile data speeds in urban areas and providing rural customers with better broadband coverage.

New app reveals customer experience

Perhaps the most prominent example of our customer-centric strategy is the new NetPerform app. The free application allows customers to monitor signal strength and network speeds, mobile data usage and Wi-Fi performance. It also enables them to manage the overall performance of their device by monitoring how much data other apps are using and storing. The app is also zero-rated so customers are not charged for any data consumed while using NetPerform.

The NetPerform app also helps us improve our network and service to customers. It collects user experiences (poor quality and dropped calls etc.) anonymously and uploads this information to a centralised location where it is combined and analysed to provide us with a detailed picture of overall network performance. Trends and issues can be identified swiftly and this information enables us to make targeted improvements.


Opportunities for improvement

One of the main indicators we use to monitor and manage the quality of our network is independent Quality of Service (QoS) testing. For the second year running, the Safaricom network was comprehensively evaluated by leading independent testing and engineering services company, P3 Communications, and was awarded the ‘Best in Test’ P3 certification for both voice and data among Kenyan operators (last year we were best for data, but joint first position for voice).

We may have the best overall results among Kenyan operators, but we benchmark ourselves against European operators and did not achieve our target of improving our performance by 50% and scoring 650 points out of a possible 1000.

Overall, we scored 527 for the reporting period, which is a 33% improvement on our performance last year when we scored 395 points. In order to hit our target of 650 points, however, we are going to focus on improving voice call quality by interconnecting highways and small cities and further enhancing our data quality by rolling out more UMTS 900 and 4G sites.


The seven KPIs described in the preceding table are a simplified illustration of the full scope measured for the P3 Certification Benchmark criteria. For the purposes of this disclosure, we have ranked ourselves against the other Kenyan mobile operators. As the table reflects, we made significant gains in the area of voice call speech quality, which can be attributed to the successful implementation of the HD Voice feature, among other initiatives.

While we achieved first place in the P3 benchmark tests, it should be noted that we did not meet the QoS thresholds set by the Communications Authority of Kenya and were fined as a result.

Customer satisfaction improving

Another key metric we use to measure our BNU performance is the network-related Net Promoter Score (NPS). The NPS is an independent survey of customer satisfaction and the ‘Network NPS’ allows us to monitor whether our customers are experiencing the improvements we make to the network.

As the preceding table shows, our overall Network NPS was 64 in March 2016, an improvement of 13 points from 51 in June 2015. The table also illustrates the breakdown of different network elements used to determine the overall NPS. The improvement in signal coverage can be attributed to the ongoing rollout of sites and the deployment of 1,037 U900 sites, in particular. Likewise, data speeds and coverage have also improved as a result of the expanded U900 network, together with the rollout of 4G sites during the year. As noted previously, the remarkable improvement in voice call quality can be attributed to the successful implementation of initiatives such as HD Voice.
Restructuring streamlines processes

As well as orientating us towards the customer, our new strategy includes the explicit objective of striving for excellence in our operations. In response, we have restructured and evolved from a centralised organisation into a regional one. Commercial and technological teams now collaborate at cluster (sub-regional) levels, which has created a much stronger sense of ownership on project delivery, enabled localised customisation of products, made marketing and customer engagement more relevant and sped up response times.

As part of the restructuring, the various governance sections within technology have also been consolidated in to one department. Technology financial governance, vendor management, network change governance and reporting now sit within the Technology Strategy Assurance and Governance (TSAG) Department.

Overall, the restructuring has streamlined decision-making and procurement processes. The introduction of more collaborative, cross-functional teams with common objectives has made decision-making much easier and the silos between finance and technology have been bridged. Approvals are now made within 48 hours and with a maximum of five signatories.

UMTS 900 sites help us achieve 3G expansion

In terms of 2G coverage, our target for FY16 was to provide 93% of the population with access to 2G services. We surpassed this target and now offer 95% of Kenyans 2G services, a feat we achieved by rolling out 418 strategically located new sites during the year (see next section for further detail).

We currently offer 78% of the population access to 3G services, which is slightly short of our target of providing 80% of the population with access by the end of March 2016, despite the accelerated rollout of 3G broadband, facilitated by the additional spectrum we acquired in the previous reporting year, and the fast-tracked deployment of an additional 1,037 UMTS 900 sites, which provide better signal penetration in high-density urban environments.

We grew our 4G services from 236 to 463 sites during the year. The 4G services currently support voice calls, using a technology referred to as Circuit Switch Fall Back (CSFB). We currently provide 4G services in over 20 counties and to approximately 8% of the total population.

We failed to hit our target of 3,811 2G-enabled base stations due to challenges in the acquisition of new site locations, especially in insecure locations within the country. While the expansion of our 3G-enabled sites remains on track, we reviewed our plans and did not roll out the conventional 2100 MHz sites we had included, choosing to focus on the UMTS 900-enabled sites instead. This was strategic because UMTS900 3G sites offer better coverage than conventional 2100MHz 3G sites and enable us to provide a larger population coverage with the deployment of each new 3G site. We achieved our target of 463 4G-enabled sites (the target was revised from 467 to 463 during the year) as this process does not require the acquisition of news sites, but simply the installation of new technologies on existing towers.
Fibre optic network growing steadily

Our fibre optic network is strategically important to us because this type of broadband connectivity offers extremely fast data speeds and high resilience. Last year, we committed to expanding our fi bre footprint to a further 10 towns and connecting all 1,020 targeted enterprise buildings and 8,000 residential homes in 50 housing estates.


We made good progress in terms of expanding our footprint, laying an extra 1,226 kilometres of cables and connecting 13 more towns. Our fi bre network is now 3,236 km in length and connects 18 towns in 16 counties. We did not meet our target of 1,020 enterprise buildings connected during the year but grew the number of connected sites to 1,303 or 34% of the network. We only achieved 85% of our target of 8,000 connected homes, however, and this will be an area of concerted effort in the year ahead as we intend to connect 20,000 residential homes.

Maintaining momentum in energy availability

The reliability and growth of our network is directly dependent on the availability of energy. Any interruption in energy supply, such as grid electricity outages and national shortages of diesel fuel, poses a direct challenge to the continuity of our operations. Consequently, energy security and efficiency is ever more important as we look to expand our network, particularly in rural areas that have less reliable access to grid electricity.

Our response to this is primarily managed through our energy failure rates (minimising energy outages at sites by deploying a mix of energy supplies, including grid, generator and alternative sources) and consumption targets (reducing the amount of energy consumed at sites by deploying more energy-efficient technologies and alternative energy solutions).

We calculate our network energy failure rate as the number of minutes the network was unavailable as a result of power outages. This is known as the Network Unavailability Rate (NUR) and our target for the year was less than 5 minutes, which we achieved.
We achieved our NUR target of less than 5 minutes as a result of ongoing initiatives to manage the mix of energy sources used throughout our network and ensure we have suitable power redundancy and backup solutions in place. Our network uses a variety of energy sources including national grid, diesel generator, deep cycle battery and renewable energy (solar, wind and hybrid) solutions.

From an energy-availability perspective, it was a year of maintaining the momentum of FY15 and continuing with the same initiatives. As our NUR shows, we have achieved a signifi cant improvement in resilience to national power outages and to ensuring the network is available to customers in spite of such episodes.

Keeping energy costs down while we source new solutions

Our network continues to grow in size and sophistication every year. As a result, making it more energy efficient and intelligent remains an ongoing priority. Our vision is still to create a powerful, streamlined network that uses the minimal amount of energy to deliver its growing array of services. One that transforms the lives of the communities it serves with the lightest of environmental touches.

In terms of energy-efficiency, it was also a year of maintaining the impetus and initiatives of the previous year. Our target for the year was KSh 51,000 per month or less per site and we achieved this by continuing to deploy a wide range of energy-efficient solutions, including power cube generators, Low-voltage Auto Phase Selectors (APS), free cooling units, and replacing rectifier and smart controller units.
Looking ahead

As we continue to embed our new customer-centric approach through the Best Network for You (BNU) programme, we have set ourselves the Network NPS target of a minimum seven-point lead over our nearest competitor for consumer customers and a 10-point lead for enterprise customers. We will also be focusing on launching initiatives that will reduce customer calls to the call centre by 30%, over a period of 3 years, and plan to be able to announce and exciting new e-commerce expansion to the M-PESA platform. We will still continue to measure our network quality through the independent P3 benchmark testing and have set ourselves the target of improving our overall score to 650/1000.

Other network quality targets for the year ahead include: extending 2G coverage to 96% of the total population and 3G to 82% of the total population; achieving a 20% improvement in network stability (a maximum of 15 minutes of downtime per week per network element, in terms of the Radio Access Network); realising 30% cost savings in response to the excellence in operations strategic objective and a 30% reduction in the time required to get products to market.

As previously reported, many of our equipment supplier contracts came to an end during FY15. This has presented us with a wonderful opportunity to research and review the very latest technologies and solutions available, but it has also delayed the introduction of new projects, such as our renewable energy programmes. We are still busy with this process, but intend to complete our selections and onboard the right partners and solutions during this coming year.