With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in lots of adjustments in how we live our lives – no more going to school and, for some, no more going to work (at least physically) – we are increasingly finding ourselves stuck in one spot for long.
That one spot, for some, is our homes.
Now, we work, study and, well, live, in our homes. Maybe just like we have done before but there’s a twist. It’s the expectation as the “stay at home” message gets amplified.
To that end, Safaricom announced, just as Kenya announced its first case of the Coronavirus, that it was doubling the internet speeds for subscribers of its Fibre to the Home product, Safaricom Home Fibre.
The change, which rolled out immediately to subscribers on all tiers – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum (and their value-added counterparts) – has come in handy taking care of the extra bandwidth requirements in our homes now that everyone is around and has varying needs.
Here are things you can do to not only stay productive during this uncertain period but also stay entertained while taking full advantage of your monthly home internet subscription:
1. Video calls/video conferencing
This is the age of Zoom. It is Zoom’s world and we’re all just living in it.
Seriously, though, Zoom, even with all the privacy concerns that have been raised (just take the necessary precautions that you would – set up a password, don’t share your meeting ID in public or with parties that are not part of the call etc), is the in-thing right now. Need to catch up on that project you and your colleagues were working on before all hell broke loose because of this pandemic? Zoom. Want your child to get together with the other children in school and learn a thing or two together? Zoom. It’s great for one-on-one conversations as well as group conference calls. Just remember to mute your microphone when you’re not talking.
While Zoom is all the rage right now (and rightfully so), there is still good old Skype. It has the annoying reputation of requiring you to have an account before you can join a call and not bothering to help you hide your background unlike Zoom but, depending on whatever it is that you are up to, it also gets the job done pretty much. After years of playing around with cartoon-y user interfaces, Skype seems to have settled and Microsoft’s product is just fine when used on mobile via the Android app. Even better, on Skype, you’re not limited to Zoom’s pesky 40-minute limit for calls that have more than 3 people.
Google Duo is also a great option especially if all you want to do is catch up with friends or play the drinking game virtually. It’s already pre-installed on your Android device and it’s just a matter of signing in and boom, you’re on a video call. Even better, to keep up with the extraordinary times, it was updated recently to accommodate up to 12 people at a go on a single call.
There are other solutions out there as well, like Microsoft Teams, but they are mostly niche or at least they present themselves as so and, as such, aren’t the best fit for a combination of work and play. In fact, on the Microsoft Teams website, they gladly point you to Skype for personal use.
For all the children stuck at home with not much to do other than go through their old school notes and play games, well, there is so much more learning that they can get thanks to access to the internet.
All that they need is a device to access the internet from and, well, an internet connection.
While YouTube can be handy for like all the gadget reviews we are obsessed with and the news as well as entertainment content, it is also a great educational resource.
Maths Smart, for instance, will get all the learners brushed up on their math skills at home; something that MathHelp will also do very well. For those that need in-person tutorials, teachers who dedicate their time to teach virtually are aplenty. Brian Logan will look out for the learners just as another teacher, Eddie Woo, would.
Away from Maths, the Amoeba Sisters will take care of some of the needs of a junior high school Biology student while the Physics Girl will help demystify the subject while expanding the world view of the learner at the same time. The latter is something that the Crash Course channel also does so very well with everything from the basics of entrepreneurship to understanding algorithms to world history. For those looking to learn some coding, The Coding Train can be a great resource.
Locally, EduTV Kenya, which is backed by the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development, is a great resource even though the content repository is still lacking.
There are other means that Kenyan students can use to access educational content but those are not necessarily limited to access to services like Home Fibre or access to the internet in general.
It is not just students who can learn something new. For those among us who are in the creative space or are simply photography and videography enthusiasts, they can take advantage of an offer by the Nikon School Online to enrol and take all their courses for free this month (April 2020).
Sure, you can stay on TikTok giggling at all the #NoRushChallenge skits or get on Houseparty and kill off the boredom or, like many are doing, just stay on your favourite DJ’s Instagram Live as they mix tune to tune.
Novel as that may be, you can do it using your reliable mobile data already, can’t you?
If you are spending a minimum of just under Kshs 3,000 every month for home internet, you have leeway to enjoy even more forms of entertainment. Like movies from the various streaming video-on-demand platforms that are available in the country.
Like Netflix, for instance. With the latest season of Money Heist dropping, there’s more reason to be glued to your big screen every time you are taking a break from the homeschooling you have to do or that 1-hour long work conference call.
If paying that much for home internet and paying another about Kshs 1,000 for Netflix every month for the unforeseeable future is a burden or you simply appreciate variety, then Showmax is for you since, courtesy of their partnership with Safaricom, which was renewed the other day, you can get 3 months for the price of 1 or half a year for the price of 3 months. That comes with it an expansive content catalogue that features everything from HBO’s hits to local shows to kids content. Heck, there’s even news content right now in case you need a balance of the depressing news and fun. Value for money even though you’ll have to make do with the 576p streaming.
What are you doing with your home internet at this time?
PS: The connection is shared across all the devices on your network so, running a speed test on one device when the rest are connected and active may not give you the correct picture if you want to ascertain that your Home Fibre connection’s speeds have been doubled.