How access to cheap mobile phone tariffs has changed the face of telecommunications in Kenya; from watching The World Cup to streaming online

In a country with limited banking and few landlines, cell phones are used to transfer funds by text, to send hungry people money instead of food, and to plan for emergencies.

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How the mobile phone changed KenyaThe Irish Times M-Pesa: millions of Kenyans use agencies like this one to transfer money by

MOGADISHU, July 14 Internet costs have hit an all-time low in Kenya as telecoms fight for the fast-growing market, enabling Kenyans to stream live the World Cup and other TV programs on their phones.

The rates have been falling for the last months as data become the new battle ground among service providers in the East African nation, including Telkom, Safaricom, Airtel, Jamii Telkom and Zuku, among others.

While the first three have focused on mobile internet which accounts for 99 percent of subscribers, the latter are fighting it out in the broadband market.

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The Christian Science Monitor A gentleman consults with a clerk at M-PESA in Nairobi, Kenya, in this Sept. 2007 file photo. Vodacom’s M-Pesa mobile phone banking service is all the rage

Kenyans are currently paying as low as 1 U.S. dollar for 2 giga byte (GB) of data, down from over 10 dollars. And for broadband, the telecoms are offering 10 dollars for unlimited internet.

The low rates have come in handy for thousands of Kenyans who are able to stream live the World Cup on their mobile phones.

“This has been the best World Cup experience for me for the last decade,” Johnson Onyango, a marketer in Nairobi, said Saturday.

Onyango has not only watched most of the matches on phone so far, but he also did so cheaply.

“The local TV station only showed half the matches. The pay TV station hiked its rates. So the phone came to my rescue,” he said.

Some 30 million Kenyans access the internet through their smart phones, according to the Communication Authority. This makes the mobile phone users the target market for data, according to Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT Solutions in Nairobi.

“My take is that in future, events like the Olympics, African Cup of Nations and Formula One would be exclusively watched by Kenyans on phone as internet costs fall,” he said.

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