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Review of Safaricom Company
Safaricom is a communication company which started in Kenya and has now expanded to Africa. It has about 17 million subscribers. This company offers a range of products and services including voice and data to its customers. Currently, the company has developed a mobile money transfer service in Kenya known as MPesa and an electronic mobile bank known as MKesho. At the inception of data services, Safaricom utilized a 3G technology which was in form of a portable USB modem to allow single users to connect to the Internet wirelessly. It also had a 3G router that enables many users to connect to the Internet wirelessly.
How Decision Came About
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With the aim to improve service delivery and cover wide area in broadband Internet connectivity, Safaricom implemented WiMax technology. The technology is able it to expand to new markets including rural areas, urban areas, and remote places that have no Internet access. The thought that stimulated the implementation of WiMax technology is improvement of the quality of broadband services offered to the clients, expansion of area of coverage, and reduction of costs. Unlike the initial Internet technology utilized by the company which was 3G, WiMax technology implemented 3.5G.
WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) technology is a wireless technology that has greatly changed the wireless communication technology. It is based on IEEE 802.16 specifications and can be deployed in both licensed and unlicensed spectra (Andrews, 2007). It supports various networking topologies in Radio Access Network and reaches where other networks cannot reach (Siochu & Girard, 2009). It supports point-to-multipoint connection, and therefore, it is ideal in broadband connection in places where other means of Internet connection are either difficult to put up or costly (Siochu & Girard, 2009).
Its widespread use in various countries around the world shows that it is a reliable and successful technology. By 2010, about 532 networks of WiMax had been set up in 147 countries all over the world, representing a growth of 28.2% compared to 2009 with users reaching six million (The WiMax Guide, 2010). Countries that manufacture chipset for WiMax technology such as China and Taiwan have increased their production from 2006. Compared to WiFi technology that the company was using previously, WiMax technology covers a wide area, allows high speed Internet connection, and provides quality cellular network connection. It delivers last mile wireless broadband without directly connecting to base stations and provides easy connection to places where connections are problematic due to landscape and infastructural constraints.
Three major important aspects influenced the choice of WiMax technology by the company. They are spectrum which enables its deployment in both licensed and unlicensed spectra, support for different Radio Access Network topologies, and support for independent RAN architecture to enhance compatibility with other network architecture such as Wi-Fi 3G, IPV4, and IPV6 network connections. Since Safaricom is a major data provider in Kenya, security of clients’ information was a major concern in selection of a network technology. Other organizations and businesses that depend on Internet connections through Safaricom’s broadband require secure networks which make the company to go for WiMax that has enhanced security. WiMax has been designed with enhanced security features to ensure that clients’ data remain secure and private. It protects users’ data by requiring authenticity of users to detect and block any unauthorized access. WiMax is also multifunctional, i.e. performs a variety of tasks such as enabling Internet connection, providing telephone services and video conferencing at the same time, allowing the use of mobile multimedia services, downloading data through hotspots at low speed, connecting CCTV surveillance.
Being the leading communication company in Africa, Safaricom wanted a network that was easy to connect people in areas that have less terrestrial connections. Militwa and Ockards (2008) explain that WiMax technology in Africa has the ability to enhance economic growth and provide social change. In addition, the availability of WiMax spectra in Africa makes it very easy to set up; unlike in developed world where the spectra are crowded. Furthermore, many parts in Africa do not have fixed lines and cellular network, therefore, making WiMax suitable (Militwa & Ockards, 2008).
Various stakeholders were involved in the process including the government, the company’s IT experts, top management, and users.
The government of Kenya was involved in the process of establishing WiMax technology through its regulatory body called Communication Commission of Kenya. It licensed the system and services the system provides, approved WiMax equipment in the country, and managed frequency range within which WiMax operates. With the government’s authority, Safaricom ensures that people in remote parts of the country have access to the Internet.
IT experts were involved in the whole process of purchase from requirement analysis to installation and maintenance. They determined what ussers want including the difficulties users experience with their systems, and identified suitable technologies that can satisfy the needs of users by providing them with quality and secure services. They chose the best technology (WiMax technology) and contacted supplier to provide them with quotations. After purchasing, with the help of experts from vendor, they installed and tested the system, and are currently maintaining and providing user support. They also helped in managing change to enable users to get used to the system with ease.
Top management helped in making strategic decisions regarding the choice and implementation of a useful technology that could provide users with high quality and secure services. They contacted IT experts to select a suitable technology, negotiated contract, and formed a project team to oversee the implementation of the technology. They also funded the project and gave advice to project team on ways of mitigating risks.
Though most companies do not involve users in their decision making processes, Safaricom knew that users are the center of focus in the process of purchasing a technology. Products and services that do not involve users are useless because they will neither satisfy the needs of users nor bring profits to the company. Users were involved in the entire purchasing process including providing information regarding technical difficulties they encounter by using the old system, their expectations of the new system, and the process of user interface design.
Good or Bad Decision?
The implementation of the technology was a good decision. Users are the kings in business and want to get high quality products and services from companies. In the current market, there is very completion and if a company does not treat its customers well or provide quality products and services, it will lose customers to the competitor. By striving to offer good products and services to customers, Safaricom made a very good decision.
Technology changes at a rapid rate today. Each improvement in technology comes with benefits to businesses and consumers. Without using the benefits, businesses risk losing customers to competitors as competitors would take advantage of the technology and offer quality services to customers. Businesses should make use of any new technology to gain from its benefits and maintain compatibility with other businesses and technologies. For example, by utilizing WiMax, which is a new technology, Safaricom would find it very easy to collaborate with another telecommunication company that uses the same technology to expand to other markets.
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