Communications hardware company BRCK has announced that it has bought the assets of internet company Surf, which is owned by US based EveryLayer.
Surf launched in Kenya in 2016 and has been providing internet to low income communities through public hotspots. In 2017, the company partnered with Facebook and Internet Solutions in 2017 to launch the Express Wi-Fi service, a public Wi-Fi hotspot service in Kenya. The company currently has 1200 hotspots in 22 towns in Kenya and has over 200,000 active customers.
BRCK launched Moja Wi-Fi in 2017, a network of free public internet access points that allows anyone to get online. The company keeps the Moja service free by having businesses buy services from them that include content caching, app downloads, surveys + ads and subsidizing that usage. This is achieved through the Moja CDN, an infrastructure-as-a-service offering that provides compute and storage capacity to organizations such as iROKO, Buni.tv, ShowMax, Netflix, BBC’s BritBox and Amazon Prime to host their applications or content locally.
The Moja service is run through buses and matatus in Nairobi and Kigali and it is currently active in 1,500 buses. According the CEO Eric Hersman, the Moja service had as of January 2019 racked up 300,000 active uniques and 3.7 million impressions per month.
The Moja service is powered by the SupaBRCK, a connected microserver powered by a dual core Intel 64-BIT processor with a up to 5TB of hard drive space and a 10-hour onboard battery life. SupaBRCK also comes with 3 SIM card slots for 4G LTE and 3G connectivity and a content delivery network (CDN) capability allowing individuals and education and entertainment content delivery firms to use it to store their webpages or content locally. The device is able to connect around 100 devices to power and internet and can also use solar power.
With the acquisition, Surf will maintain its name for three to six months and it will be rebranded thereafter and integrated to the Moja network.
BRCK was founded in 2013 with the first product being BRCK, an Internet router for low connectivity areas. They set up BRCK Education in 2015 through which they launched the Kio tablet and Kio Kit which is targeted at primary schools. In 2016, they received Ksh. 300 million funding from investors that included Jean and Steve Case, Jim Sorenson, and Synergy Energy and others. In 2017, they launched the SupaBRCK.