Internet is like the butter of computers. If you are running a stand-alone computer you are sorely missing out. But given that we are still awaiting a fiber link at the coast to link us to everyone else at blinding speeds the challenge is to find a reliable and cost-effective solution.
Now, mobile telephony has really tried. From the 9.6kbps GPRS, we now can get speeds in excess of 3.6Mbps on HSDPA (3G). However, the downside is that most billing is done by volume. Let me illustrate.
Imagine a Ksh.10/MB tariff. That looks pretty cheap given that the average non-animated web-page weighs about 10kB. So for one page, you will be billed around 10 cents. Good deal, huh! Wrong!
The more practical scenario is that you will regularly encounter poorly designed web-pages that have images instead of HTML so you have pages in excess of 100kB. Still Ksh.1 but trust me, if you're like most Internet users you want to have multiple pages open simultaneously (Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo, MySpace, several Google searches, Corporate Webmail etc) and you can easily push in excell of 1MB per minute. Oh, I forgot: You-tube! (streaming) That brings it to a whopping Ksh.10 per minute. Over several minutes you will have used a few hundreds and you will be rudely shocked.
At the same time, MS Windows needs to give Microsoft daily updates of what you've been up to and send you the appropriate files. Your antivirus will need to do its updates in the background and chances are you have some adware and spyware faithfully communicating to their masters in the background. At this rate you have to tip-toe your way into the Internet, kill rogue processes, install spyware and adware and you are basically paranoid about using your phone to connect to the Internet.
So the million dollar question is: is there any cheap and cost-effective Internet solution available? The answer is a resounding YES!
Celtel Kenya have a post-paid Internet plan that costs Ksh.2995 per month for unlimited access! It is based on GSM-EDGE which can reliably deliver speeds of up to 236.8kbps (depending on the computer to phone link: Bluetooth(TM) gives just over 100kbps while USB will give the full speed possible).
All you need to do is apply for the post-paid line with a copy of your National ID/Passport and PIN certificate with a Ksh.2000 deposit. You may buy a modem from them at Ksh.5995 for both USB or PCMCIA or get one at one of the computer shops in CBD. Alternatively, you may use an EDGE-enabled phone (for which quite a number exist) either via Bluetooth(TM) or USB or IrDA or Serial.
I'm quite happy with the solution and would happily recommend others to try it out.