Business

New high-speed Internet plan draws mixed reactions in Rwanda

Share Bookmark Print Rating
Internet users in a cyber café. The government plans to roll out high-speed Internet countrywide. Photo/File

Internet users in a cyber café. The government plans to roll out high-speed Internet countrywide. Photo/File 

By Kabona Esiara Rwanda Today

Posted  Friday, August 2  2013 at  17:29

In Summary

  • The government plans to roll out the 4G LTE technology countrywide.
  • Reforms will see the three telecommunications companies in the country — Tigo, Airtel and MTN — and the nine Internet service providers get broadband at wholesale prices.
  • The policy comes at a time when some stakeholders are jittery about the recent introduction of Common External Tariffs (CET) on telecom equipment in the 2013/14 budget which could hurt broadband usage as equipment will be expensive.
SHARE THIS STORY

The government plans to change the broadband policy to boost Internet penetration and bring down connectivity costs by deploying high-speed data transfer technology.

The 4G LTE technology, it says, will be rolled out countrywide.

“The primary objective of the policy is to facilitate accessibility of affordable and reliable broadband services throughout the country,” said Didier Nkurikiyimfura, director-general of ICT in the Ministry of Youth and ICT.

The reforms will see the three telecommunications companies in the country — Tigo, Airtel and MTN — and the nine Internet service providers get broadband at wholesale prices.

The new policy will also emphasise on the need for open access to both the national and privately owned ICT infrastructure, including transmission services and dark fibre access.

This, according to the government, is to avoid duplication of investments in the telecom sector.

Push the penetration rate

Analysts say Internet costs could come down by four times when the country deploys 4G LTE mobile technology, which will be rolled out by a consortium formed jointly by government and a South Korean firm.

The target is to push the penetration rate, which stands at 8.5 per cent, to an all-time high.

The consortium will invest more than $140 million in the project. The government invested in 3,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable.

The Minister for Youth and ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana said the joint investment is aimed at driving broadband accessibility to 95 per cent of the population in the next three years.

Besides the affordable broadband Internet, experts say penetration rates will also depend on the prices of handsets and computers.

The policy comes at a time when some stakeholders are jittery about the recent introduction of Common External Tariffs (CET) on telecom equipment in the 2013/14 budget.

Not locked out

1 | 2 Next Page»