Last mile mobile broadband subscription for rural Kenya
The government of Kenya in its effort to revamp its telecommunication sector, which is hitherto hampered by inadequate international connectivity, has been facilitating the establishment of submarine cables. Despite these efforts, there is a widening gap between those with easy access to Information and Communication Technology (lCT) and those without thus defeating the initial idea of tapping into the National Fiber Optical Network and optimizing the benefits of the submarine cables to all citizens. The digital divide between the urban and rural continues to widen at a time when access to ICT has been found to have a correlation with socio-economic development and Gross Domestic Product. The rural areas have a limited connectivity to ICT and broadband access is inadequate and very limited according to the findings of Communication Commission of Kenya report (2010). This study sought to investigate how last mile mobile broadband subscription can be applied to expand the reach of digital divide to the underserved and unserved parts of the country access the internet. The specific objectives of the study were to design and implement a last mile mobile subscription prototype via mobile phone. The research adopted Structured Systems Analysis and Design Methodology (SSADM) using Java Development Platform. A subscription model for rural Kenya that uses mobile based user interfaces has been developed. Unique connectivity tokens identification is issued upon receipts of payment via M-pesa. The token identification code is sent via mobile phone. The user uses the received token identification number as the password into the broadband WiMAX network for one month subscription. The Prototype was tested by a link to WIMAX network via Butterfly KDN server. Files of different sizes were uploaded and downloaded. The time taken was measured using the KDN Bandwidth Manager software. Similarly, the experiment was repeated with Safaricom Modem and the time was measured. Various transmission graphs were plotted for speed against the file sizes. The study showed that WiMAX broadband was faster than Safaricom Global System of Mobile transmission (GSM) modem and can be therefore be extended to rural Kenya. The main contribution is the incorporation of the prototype in the provision of broadband internet access through wireless technologies and WiMAX as an approach towards solving the digital divide gap that exists in the rural Kenya specially lack of easy access to Information and Communication Technology (lCT).