Orange Kenya is one of the 3 currently existing mobile operators in Kenya. The mobile operator has undergone numerous transitions from being a state owned corporation – Kenya Posts & Telecommunications Company (KPTC) to being a joint venture between the Kenyan Government and the French owned Orange Telkom.
I together with a few friends I share an office with started using an Orange WiFi router a few days ago to substitute the poor main internet bandwidth in the building. Soon after we started using it, I noticed that I suddenly couldn’t access certain sites that I got from my twitter timeline.
— Njeri Wangari (@NjeriWangari) February 12, 2015
— Martin Gicheru (@martingicheru) December 27, 2013
At first I thought it was the site that was down and thus kept refreshing my browser. When it happened with a link to this blog, I knew right away, the problem was not with the site but with the connection. That’s when it hit me that anytime I accessed a website using its actual URL (short for Uniform Resource Locator or website link), I got through. However, when I clicked on a shortened URL appearing on twitter or Facebook, the site would not open.
I tested this when the building’s net started working albeit intermittently, with the same links I couldn’t access on the Orange link and the sites opened without a problem.
This was quite shocking to realize as Orange has been putting up all manner of adverts on how they have not pulled 3G in places like Nakuru and I don’t know where else.
So why would Orange Kenya, the oldest Kenyan Telco and Internet Service Provider (ISP) block shortened links.
What are Shortened URLs
Ever since the rise of twitter as a platform of choice for more professional online engagement, conversations and of late, the number one platform for breaking news, the twitter limitation to the use of only 140 characters created the need for people to share links to news and information in a creative way without losing all the 140 to a link only.
That is what gave the rise to the tinyurl site which allows people to;- copy their long website address (URL), paste it on a section of their site, and voila, you get the shortened version of the link which utilises less than a half of the characters in the original link. ( I hope I haven’t lost you).
Due to the increase in URL shortening services online, the shortened links can have the bit.ly/….. as part of the link or tinyurl.com/….. These happen to be the most popular url shortening services.
The Orange Kenya link Headache
After I confirmed that it was indeed the Orange link that was blocking me from accessing the shortened urls, I reached out to them via their twitter handle.
At the time of publishing this post, I still had not received any call or tweet responding to my concern. This is despite them requesting for my number and the line to the Orange WiFi router I am using.
Am not the only one
As it turns out, I am not the only one who has experienced this problem with Orange Kenya. As far back as 2013 James Mwamisi tweeted to Orange via their twitter handle @OrangeKenya and described this exact problem with his modem. He neither received a response nor was the problem resolved.
@OrangeKenya My Orange modem can’t access short url’s like bit.ly. Have you blocked short url’s?
— James Mwamisi (@jamesmwamisi) December 14, 2013
Hey @OrangeKenya I have a problem with my dongle, It seems to have cached some sites, I can’t open them. Saidia tafadhali.
— Follow IG:@XtianDela (@xtiandela) February 11, 2015
2 years later, Orange Telkom’s biggest priority is rolling out 3G network in all parts of Kenya yet, the very users they want to connect to the internet will not be able to access most of the sites shared on social Media.
Countrywide 3G roll out vs Shortened URLs
Does Orange Kenya mean to tell us that all their Engineers can’t figure out a simple problem as why their DNS Servers are failing to resolve shortened URLs or they have a spam software that some techie forgot to configure correctly….. My Point is, Orange needs to realize that their priorities are upside down. Fix the Darn Shortened URL issue and stop pretending that the problem doesn’t exist by ignoring our complaints to you on twitter.
The twitter platform is not just for you to reminisce on the days gone by and tweet famous quotes. NKT
— Orange Kenya (@OrangeKenya) February 12, 2015