BRCK acquires Surf Kenya to expand services portfolio to fixed Wi-Fi segment

BRCK, a hardware and services tech company based in Nairobi, has announced the acquisition of Surf Kenya, an ISP focused on delivering fixed Wi-Fi connectivity to consumers.

Surf packages include Surf@Home (an unlimited home internet service available for apartments in many areas in Niarobi’s Eastlands) and Surfspot (a high-speed public Wi-Fi hotspot internet service available in many Eastlands and CBD market areas and chill spots).

In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Erik Hersman, BRCK’s CEO stated that with its rapid growth in the transportation space, BRCK has been getting a lot of demand from our users to expand into fixed locations as well and late last year entered into discussions with the leadership team of Surf for a possible merger. Below is the post:

BRCK has long been on a mission to create an onramp to the internet for people who can’t afford it regularly.  To this end, we built the SupaBRCK that runs the Moja Network, and then started expanding that service in Kenya and Rwanda.  Moja is about getting everyone online, even if you can’t afford it, by having businesses buy services from us (content caching, app downloads, surveys, ads) and subsidizing that usage.

The Moja Network has been growing quickly.  In January, we passed 300,000 unique monthly users and 3.7m sessions per month.  This means we’re not only increasing traction with more users, but that our users are returning to the platform 12x per month.  With 1,500 mobile nodes in buses in matatus across Nairobi and Kigali, the Moja Network is one of the largest public WiFi providers in the region.

With this rapid growth in the transportation space, we’ve been getting a lot of demand from our users to expand into fixed locations as well.  Near the end of the year we entered into discussions with the leadership team of Surf, the largest fixed public WiFi network in Kenya by number of locations (1,200).  The conversations about doing an acquisition of their network and IP went well, and we were able to find a way to put those assets under the BRCK umbrella.

This acquisition continues the velocity of BRCK’s public WiFi user growth, bringing us close to 500k monthly active unique users, and putting us over 5m sessions per month.  This makes the Moja Network the largest public WiFi network in East Africa, and second largest on the continent.

One of the great advantages that we were looking for was an ability to have a fixed WiFi strategy to add to our transportation and edge compute model.  With the Surf acquisition, BRCK is now able to take off-the-shelf routers, partner with local ISPs, and roll out network faster into fiber-connected locations.  All of this will run the Moja platform, so there is a seamless user experience between public locations and public transportation.

BRCK (now operating under the ‘Moja Network’ brand) first got into the market when developed a connectivity device also known as BRCK, a device designed to work in harsh environment where electricity is intermittent. BRCK can support up to 40 devices, has an 8-hour battery life when the power is out, and can jump from Ethernet, to Wi-Fi, to 3G seamlessly. The initial BRCK units started shipping in July of 2014 and by February of 2015, thousands of BRCK’s had been sold to 54 countries around the world.

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