The Best ISP in Kenya

A good and reliable Internet connection is pretty much essential these days. You need it for all sorts of things, including the ability to make real money online. Unfortunately, the state of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in Kenya is very nearly pathetic. After some readers asked us to recommend good ISPs, we realised that we could not actually recommend anyone without giving a caveat. How sad, eh? So we decided to do some research and establish the truth about which company may actually be the best ISP in Kenya.


Our admittedly very limited research focused on the so called ‘big’ names:

Why did we do this?
Well, almost everyone we talked to felt that the ISP state in Kenya is just not right. Very few if any of the Kenyan ISPs do things right and the customer is at their complete mercy. It should be the other way round – they should be at our complete mercy.

This is our own little contribution towards that future. We hope to publish updates in the future as and when the situation changes. Please note that our review was limited to residential internet access and not the so called “corporate internet”. Many ISPs are totally different depending on what type of customer you are. Sigh.

The Best ISP
Unfortunately, and sadly, we did not find any one company that we could call “the bast”. Some seem very good, but all have painful problems associated with them. Sad tu sana, eh?

1. GOOD ISPs
A. Safaricom
It may come as quite the shock but currently Safaricom seems to be the among the best overall ISPs in the country. Safaricom offers internet via mobile modems, WiMAX, and fibre. Overall, people speak very well of Safaricom.

The Good:

  1. Very fast Internet
  2. Fairly stable and rarely goes down

The Bad:

  1. When things go wrong, the customer often does not know who to cotnact for support – and the Safaricom customer care line rarely goes through. However, Safaricom seem to genuinely care about improving their customer care.
  2. Safaricom is expensive.

B. Airtel
Airtel is another company whose reputation is mainly good. They currently offer internet via mobile modems.

The good:

  1. They are affordable
  2. Their service is mostly reliable

The bad:

  1. Speed is really slow, sometimes becoming pathetic (i.e. the region of about 6Kbps or lower)

C. Access Kenya
Many people who deal with Access Kenya are quite happy. However there are some people who would highly recommend against them.

The good:

  1. Fairly stable service
  2. Fairly ok customer service

The bad:

  1. It is a bit pricey
  2. Relatively low speeds
  3. It feels like it is an ISP that is slowly fading away to the competition as far as residential customers are concerned.

2. BAD ISPs
These are ISPs that we would not recommend for anyone, unfortunately. Of course these companies do have happy customers so they must be good to them but you should engage with them with extreme caution.

A. Orange
Orange’s bad reputation comes fro their mistreatment of customers. Complaints range from:

  • In the past, they have changed their rates suddenly and unexpectedly and inexplicably
  • There have been reports that a customer’s bandwidth runs out faster than it should
  • Slow speeds
  • VERY poor support

B. KDN
KDN is famous for its extremely poor customer service. They seems to focus on serving corporate customers at the expense of residential customers. However, they are known for offering good services (for while) but when things start going wrong (they always do), they really get bad.

C. ZUKU
Personally I have been using Zuku at home for a while. In spite of this, I find it extremely hard to give a positive review of their service. Why? Because as a customer, Zuku will give you a special kind of pain: internet that is so shaky it disconnects every few minutes and extremely unhelpful, inaccessible and poor support. Dealing with Zuku sometimes feels like being scammed. Proceed with caution.

3. Other ISPs
We have no direct experience with the following, but their reputation seems to be good:

  1. Tangerine
  2. CallKey Networks

Conclusion
It is said that Internet services in Kenya can be one of two things, but not both:

  1. Reliable OR
  2. Affordable

The sad truth is that, at present, if you want an internet connection that is reliable, even enjoyable, you must pay premium rates.

What are your experiences with ISPs in Kenya?

Additional Resources

Comments

  1. Zuku do have afew issues. ITs fast, I can clock speeds of 500kbps, its cheap also. But it disconnects every 30 minutes…..unstable. Plus, its good the first few weeks of the month, then after it goes down.

    • Is that Wireless or FiberOptic? I hear fiber is more reliable? Anyone with experience with Zukufiber?

      • Wireless and its fibre

      • I had zuku fibre connected in Kilimani, and before that, I didn’t realise that internet like this was possible! It is truly amazing, 4mb/s connection for 2k a month, (can anyone match that)

        Only unreliability I have encountered is maybe once a week the router seems to fail, so I switch it off then on again and I am back online. Otherwise, the network has gone down twice since we were connected 3 months ago. And each of those times it was connected to power cuts around here.

        I would suggest it (and have) to everyone where the fibre runs past your house.

        • Barny Johnson says:

          Zuku Fibre can be very fast, but it is unreliable, and the customer service is shocking.

          At the time of writing, the service has been down for 4 days, it is impossible to get through to anyone on the phone. I have sent emails and opened a support ticket. No one has contacted me at all. Yesterday morning I phoned the sales guy who hooked me up, Ezekiel. He promised to look into it, then didn’t get back to me and now won’t answer my calls… so now I am looking for another service provider. My advice – avoid at all cost, not due to the product, just the complete lack of support.

        • Its good I here someone on the positive side of Zuku. The other problem Zuku have is that they don’t cover all parts of Nairobi suburbs like Thika Road where most businesses are marching towards at… There is no service at KU or Kahawa!!!!! I would like to shift from KDN! They are inconsistent!

    • well you are just lucky to be one of the first users at your place wait till you line is share on a ratio of 1:100 you will scream!!!

  2. From my experience Orange have been very good at customer service. And they are much cheaper than Safaricom, The only complaint might be the slowness experienced in the evenings.

  3. Jeff Kibati says:

    An interesting post! My beef is the fact that this is called “research”! What were the parameters? The issue of who is the best ISP in Kenya will always elude us because those who have purported to give a comparison have no idea of what they are trying to do. Are you aware that:
    1. There are ISPs where different subscribers are tied to different bandwidth offerings?
    2. Are you aware that speeds are even affected by geographical locations?
    3. What are the specs of the device that was used to run the test.
    4. What time of the day was it.

    Until we have a comparison that looks at all the variables, quite talking about “which is the best ISP in kenya”

    • This “research” was based solely on user experiences i.e. asking people for their opinions. I am aware that things are different all over the place and I can only hope that those whose opinions this post reports represent the “average”.

      However, I did clearly state that this research was “very limited”. That means we did not test all that could be tested. Perhaps one day we will. This is a start.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • I think I saw this comment rather late, but I am compelled to respond. I would call this research a customer satisfaction survey, based on a convenience sample. It gives its limitations, states the research was limited, and thus its findings are limited but helpful. For my contribution now; I have used multiple providers, changed my geographical location frequently, accessed the internet at different times of the day (even sometimes when, I guess, most users are asleep); but never have I, even once, got close to the download/upload speeds my devices and ISPs claim to offer. But I would say some are better than others. For instance, if I were to consider speed, I would say Safaricom is better than Airtel in their unlimited offers, but airtel is better than safaricom in their cost. Which is better in reliability?

  4. Love Love Love this post, its about time we had this discussion! I agree on Safaricom, fast but expensive, the Wimax is AMAZINGLY fast although its pricey if your not an organization. Access Kenya should be at the bottom of the list, their customer service isn’t nice from my experience. As for KDN, wawawa they are least bothered if you are not a company, and that goes for even when i was trying to get a quotation to provide for our company at work, they couldn’t be bothered, as in bottom of the food chain customer service for sure! Callkey are expensive but have good customer service, they constantly update you when your internet is down. Haven’t experienced any of the others.

  5. As for Zuku, whaaaat ROTFL!

  6. Safaricom has to have the best service for the simple reason that they keep improving their services. A while back, getting their customer care service was hellish but not it much easier than before. The only problem with their service is pricing. The issue of bundles requires one to study and restudy lest you get yourself in a fix. Infact, I can authoritatively say that even their Retail Shop attendants are always befuddled by their rates. If only they can offer real unlimited internet for a set price without talking about speeds, it would be great. The bundles are a scam for real.

    I have no idea who uses Airtel, but I know that a friend of mine who is their dealer tells me I had better go for Safcom or Orange. Tells you alot about their service now, doesn’t it.

    Personally, I use Orange LiveBox. Initially, it was good, very fast and reliable. Then something happened and it started being intermittent and this called for restarting the bloody box! Thereafter, reporting for service restoration became a nightmare till I realised that Orange has outsourced their customer care service to a BPO company. How gross can it be! On their modem, I have heard complaints and I always asked what they were selling as 3G+ seeing that they were awarded their 3G just last year. Were they lying to their customers?

    You forgot to include YU, which was initially good till their internet service on modem died! No idea what happened. Thing is, they also claim that they have 3G yet we all know they haven’t been given the licence nor the frequencies.

    KDN has moved from retail service to concentrate on wholesale service provision. This means that they no longer offer Butterfly and Loopnet WiFi services which were super. These services have been taken over by Swift Global and are not running in some areas while running in others. One thing am sure of is that, Swift Global will just make a bad situation worse on these WiFi services. Loopnet was free and depended on adverts for maintenance and ran on 1MBPS shared. Butterfly was also good with 50/- scratch cards for 2hrs and would stretch for 12hrs if the machine you were using wasn’t switched off for that duration. Was fun.

    Access Kenya seems to have mixed reactions from many but is not so widespread for one to really have a wide range of user experience. Same case applies to Zuku under Wananchi online.

    On Tangerine, after visiting their website, if one needs a PHD to understand the Safcom bundled pricing, then Tangering may require about 3 PHDs to figure them out! Its that bad! Tangerine makes one feel that their education is inadequate and their understanding faculties miserable!

    One thing I ask myself is, is it possible to get internet service in Kenya, reasonably priced for more than average speed with easily accessible customer-care service when I need it at the click of a mouse for at least 90% of the time? Whichever company will answer that, they will have cracked that ISP nut and will laugh all the way to the bank.

  7. Orange isn’t that bad, on the unlimited bundle I was able to do 12GB in a week… Not bad, ey?

  8. maera o j says:

    arguably,tangerine may have a convoluted way /uncommon way of product description but i assure you that if you talk to a sales rep it takes below five minutes to grasp what the literature is all about, and if you choose to get hooked unto them,you will most definitely go back asking for more bundles because the speeds are supersonic.
    maera

  9. suresh patel says:

    @ Present I m useing zuku in house is quite ok and useing orange in office i feel very good both of them i had not got any proble with it . both i am use on my laptop thru wifi

  10. One thing am gettting from this article that puzzles me is this, I thought Likechapaa was written by a lady with one child. who is Kevin? ;)

  11. am a guy who likes to play online gaming on my Xbox 360. can anyone suggest a good ISPs to hold up in good speeds for a guy who lives in runda?

  12. Well well. For those that cant read between the lines and readily get duped into thinking that the genesis of this discussion is Honest and fair,Sad for you because judging the tone and the scope of information used to craft this Network awards, i think looking at all angles it is lope sided at its best and biased in every way this is simply a publicity stunt by some cowardly Isp firm trying to gain undue competitive milage over the rest thgat have done their home work and are ahead of the game. Kenyans are way informed you cannot influence our oppinions using sucha boggas blog. I think Access Kenya has what it take to be called a worthy stable, fast, secure, affordable and the most reliable ISDP provider in Kenya it should be the top of this list given experience of the market place. If not why does it serve the major sensitive busineses like Top banks in Kenya. Kelvin do your homework before misleading Kenyans.

    • Thank you for your comment. It is hilarious for you to come and tell me to do my homework when you have clearly not done yours.

      • Which cowardly ISP is supposedly paying/making me write this?
      • Which “Kenyans” am I supposedly misleading?
      • What are my apparent motives in misleading “Kenyans”?
      • Are you the ultimate authority in judging (based on nothing but your own experience and opinion) what is a good ISP?

      If you even CARED to read the article at all, you would have seen Access Kenya being rated as one of the “good ISPs”.

      So, did you actually read the blog post before posting your silly accusations?

      • Thank you Kevin,

        It needed to be said. However I do have a question: What is the criteria of a good ISP and is a possibility of raising the market standards?

        Thanks

  13. Jeff Kiprotich says:

    Stop talking about Mobile Carriers as serious ISPs.
    Their speeds are never constant and this is so because 3G is a shared resource hence the name Mobile Broadband. It’s only until recently that Safaricom and Orange have upgraded some of their base stations to facilitate 21.1 Mbps capacities. And be aware that the closest you’ll get to such speeds is at around 2:00 AM in the morning and you’ll probably clock at around 17Mbps max.

    The problem with the carriers is that they never bother to advertise the true speeds but they only indicate the hypothetical speeds for marketing purposes.

    If you want constant speeds try :
    Fibre Optic:
    Fibre is known for it’s high bandwidth capabilities hence constant speeds will be achieved. An example is Zuku Fibre, their speeds are fairly constant give or take 100 Kbps or so to account for server loads based on speedtest.net testing methods.

    WiMax:
    WiMax which comes with a dedicated channel for you and you alone is also pretty reliable. Access Kenya and is known to offer this but the drawback is the low speeds indicated and capped according to time of day. It is also a bit expensive in terms of their price per kilobit.

    But in the end a constant reliable connection even at a ‘low’ speed such as 512 Kbps is much better than a high unreliable speed of 1Mbps+.

    It’s not about the ‘best’ ISP..it’s about who offers the best quality service in terms of value, reliability and keep true to their promised services.

  14. the Best ISP provider, is xtranet. they offer the customer care and have lots of Value Adds. u can never complain about their service at all.
    if u r interested i could hook up u

  15. I was with AK for years but slow and expensive. Customer care was good but total lack of new products or offers.

    So I am with Zuku now and customer care really sucks ! And the router they give is so weak, always getting poor signal… and unreliable as said above

  16. Downloader says:

    Decided to try out KDN. They were good for a few months. Was getting speeds of upto 5mbps. Then one week it went down. Customer service was so poor. When i finally got through to them, they started giving lame ass excuses that my set ups weren’t configured properly. I followed every instruction they gave and still it was down. Tried getting them to send someone at my place and i was willing to pay. They kept coming up with more excuses and kept referring me to other people who gave even more excuses. 2 months later, they finally got it fixed, but then speeds were reaching 200kbps max. I’m currently considering safaricom.

  17. Yeah i was with KDN too for like two years. I think they did an upgrade or something and i ended up with blazing fast internet for a few months then it stopped working. I think they changed ownership or something during the past year or so. Whenever i would call KDN/Swift global i would get promises on how Butterfly would be back up soon again. Its been nearly 1 year. I’ve given up on KDN/Swiftglobal/Whoever the hell is in charge. I just wish we had zuku fibre in my area

  18. Elizabeth Njuguna says:

    Access Kenya truly is concerned only with corporate customers. It’s astonishing how they are a big enough company to be in the stock exchange and have organizations singing their praises while residential users are crying foul all the way!!

    If they have no intention of providing to say the least, decent service, they should completely scrap service to residential and focus on corporate where they seem to be doing better in comparison to residential users.

    What is the problem Access Kenya? Are residential users that minute to you?

    Honestly I think Access Kenya should stop wasting the precious time of residential users because customer service to say the least is pathetic. Don’t even get me started on the “promised internet speeds”.

    Can you imagine my router goes down and when I call customer service, the guy tells me to call a friend to configure my router because it may have reset itself to default!! I thought the whole point of paying for you services was to provide those said services?!?!

    And that is not the half of it…initially when the connection was setup, I had problems with the internet connection that the field techs should have foreseen as it is their job…I warned them it would happen but didn’t listen…and then the odesity to charge for the field trips they made to my house courtesy of said problem!

    I called continuously for two weeks until I told them to come for their router and other equipment then finally they came but did not rectify the problem without management approval….ladies and gentlemen it took them almost 4 weeks to correct a minor error that they could have avoided in the first place! And oh yes they charged me for that entire month of which I used only 1 week of internet!!

    There are times that the internet will be good and when it’s good….it is damn good but when it is bad…it’s not even worth the name internet because it sure aint performing as that.

    Even when you have managements number…my dear Kenyans it will not help because it is the same story even with customer service…the same story all the way…”we will call you back” which they never do!

    I have had my fill with Access Kenya and I think residential users who have shared my fate with this company should come together, speak up, be heard and possibly warn other unsuspecting people of these shortcomings.

    I am not even mad, i am not even dissappointed because that does not even begin to cover it!…what I feel right now is violated, angry and very very sad because if this is the kind of service you are providing to residential users, I can see even more like me moving to greener pastures.

    Such a big company but does nothing to deliver…shame, it’s a damn shame…tsk tsk tsk

    I hope a decent ISP comes up soon, otherwise till then we are at the mercy of poor service, unstable internet connections and some but not all ridiculously high prices.

    Internet in Kenya is not yet at its pick but there are better residetial ISP’s out there people, and they sure won’t give as much headaches as Access Kenya will.

  19. I prefer Xtranet, the internet is very fast, i have no complains. They dont advertise much but was told about them by a pal.

  20. Seems all internet providers in Kenya are frauds. Airtel have just had their bandwidth throttled…can only download at a maximum speeds of 30kb/s….Safaricom are also bad, Orange is worse, YU is bad…..these companies should be sued for business malpractice.

  21. i suggest not to get access kenya, very arrogant and worst customer service i’ve ever experienced ,if you’re not a Corporate client they won’t bother with helping you out

  22. Hi,

    am looking for a reliable ISP while in Kenya on business for the next 6 months. I have to stay connected. I practically live on the internet. Am online all the time. I own an IT biz, that does among other things as hosting, BPO, merchant account processing e.t.c.

    Our newest venture is http://www.123internethosting.com, where we offer hosting packages for website owners in addition to domains registrations and transfers, SEO, Web Design, xyz.
    (I will be running a promotional campaign after I land in NBO and offer 6 months free service to any one that needs hosting. We have mega tons of space (TBs) and we want to hit the ground running. I need Mpesa’s API so that we can integrate it into our payment system, if there is any such thing.
    (If any one has that, kindly let me know).

    If not we will have to design our own from scratch. I also need techs. If you have IT knowledge and experience, I will need several hard working Kenyans on my team.

    Thank you for your posts. All the info has been very informative and helpful!!
    I have a wealth of experience in IT and own several high ranking websites that get thousands of global visits per day. I am looking forward to visiting Kenya after 20 years in the U.S. So any advice on ISPs would be great.

    All the best.

    Cheers

  23. Zuku are throttling these days as well.they started just before December last year.it’s so bad that when downloading speeds are 26kbs yet I’m on 4mb per month.its a shame.

    • Hi this is a follow up.To be fair Zuku the speeds are back to normal i’m getting the full speed and very happy with their service at the moment .

      • Oh my zuku have gone back again they are just too inconsistent their speeds are now terrible on a 4 mb package I’m downloading at 80 kb max!I wish there were more ISP with good rates we Kenyans really suffer.

      • sorry, I am using 8MB, but download less than 100, when i called their support, they just tell me, they have new rules:even you have 8 MB bandwidth, but your network still be shared, if you want download somethings, you speed will be reduced to 100kb/s righ away automaticly, i think they have some limitation on their system. So mad.

        • Hi Nicholas,
          I am sorry about the frustration that you are facing with your current ISP Company. I work for EdgeMax Solutions & at the package you have paid for or less than that price, you should not be facing such challenges. There is a thing that those ISP providers are not telling you, that they are giving you an internet that is shared & that’s why you are not enjoying your money’s worth.

          I would like to introduce you & your friends to our company. We offers a fast & reliable internet connection that’s dedicated fully, so your internet speeds will always stick to what you have paid for & they won’t be shared with anyone else. We aim to get you & other people onboard – so that you can GET CONNECTED & STAY CONNECTED always. We connect the internet in all places, be it for home use, a business, hotels, offices etc.

          Regards,
          Kabiru Anthony
          0724931752

  24. I had safaricom 2mb and it was fast but now, they give speeds of 200kb so yo can upgrade higher and pay more. bure kabisa

  25. YES, I totally agree with you. ZUKU has very unstable internet, disconnect all the time. and very poor service. When I call them, they only ask me to switch off/on the modem, never come to check the real problem.
    Even worse, I heared from ZUKU, from 2012, they have a new rule: I am usting 8 MB bandwidth service, normally we should get 800kb/s download speed, but ZUKU announced, even you have 8 MB bandwidth, but your network still be shared, if you want download somethings, you speed will be reduced to 100kb/s, HOW they can do it? We paid the bill, and we can not get we need, if ZUKU want earn more cash, they can ask 1000 people share 8 MB, how it can be accept. Change police without inform customer, is that right?
    Now, we are still paying 8MB bandwidth, every month 6800KES, but download speed is less than 100kb/s, i can so mad with ZUKU.
    Please, if their is any one knows any internet provide can provide more fast internet service, i will change ZUKU to them immediately!!!!!!!
    And to ZUKU, their are so many internet provider, if you still doint this, you will lost your market, your customer.

  26. On 2nd thought, tweet Kenya ISP comments/issues here:
    #KenyaISP #ZukuKenyaISP (or #Zuku) #AccessKenyaISP #SafaricomISP #OrangeKenyaISP #AirtelKenyaISP #XtranetKenyaISP #TangerineKenyaISP, etc.

    That way we can do a ‘KenyaISP’ SEARCH on Twitter & see everything

  27. Zuku is an absolute pile of dung, to be quite honest!!!!!! i don’t even know how i loaded this site because Zuku is literary speaking a waste of money though some may see it as affordable you are simply not getting anything for it, unless of course you are nocturnal as Zuku only seems to work from 12 midnight to six in the morning. I being a Zuku customer for almost a year now would highly advise you to stay clear of this futile and incompetent ISP

    • Unfortunately i totally agree. Zuku has gone totally down hill. They simply don’t have the infrastructure to support the influx of customers they had earlier. Speeds are appauling. I pay for the 8Mb connection and rarely see anything over 1Mb.
      The support crew are totally useless also, most times i call i have more of an idea about what’s going on than they do.

  28. … Interesting read, I agree with Kevin.. I use Zuku 4mbs, my experience is since its shared between 6pm and 9pm, lotsa people online, so bandwidth is slow.. u wanna download a big file do it at 1am.. I get as much as 600kbps ….

  29. I had Zuku previously. The 1Mbps Bundle. The speeds were truly excellent but totally unstable. Don’t even ask about the customer care lol. I finally decided what the heck! I left them for access. That too was another hectic story. So expensive and slow. I had it for only two months.
    Then came Webrunner, a relatively small one in Mombasa. I’ve had a few complaints but overall, they’re good. 512Kbps @ 3000 kshs.
    I just bought the orange 3G+ Modem on offer but sadly, it refuses to get the 3G Signal so i guess i will stick with Webrunner for some while.

  30. Who is interested i knowing more about Access Kenya?
    I use their link and I cant complain…wimax on home is supper and the customer service is 24/7.

  31. Could it be wise to validate if providers have improved in 2 years?

  32. Alfred K says:

    Good research admin & its true about what the so called bigwigs are doing – poor services. For me I’d recommend that you get to have a try of what EdgeMax Solution has to offer. I have used Safaricom with its so called offers/bundles but I came to regret, orange disappointed though at first it was chap chap. My personal view on EdgeMax Solution, this is a company that intends to go places. They have a dedicated internet connection, meaning I get to enjoy the internet as per what I have paid for & no matter what I downloaded I wasn’t limited.

    Now that’s a company that saves one from the frustration, anyway that’s my view as I started with them as a home based client & now they are supplying the net for my businesses. I have always preferred a company that I don’t have to call them coz of challenges & with them they have proved a point to me that they are here to take charge of the market by sealing all the loopholes.

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