ISPs decry destruction of fibre optic cable in Kigali

Sunday October 29 2017

Technicians working on an optic fibre junction point in Kigali, Rwanda on September 30 2017.  PHOTO BY CYRIL  NDEGEYA

Technicians working on an optic fibre junction point in Kigali, Rwanda on September 30, 2017. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG 

By JEAN-PIERRE AFADHALI
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Information and Communication Technology players are looking at ways of building a secured broadband infrastructure protected from damage caused by construction activities that disrupt Internet connectivity.

Consumers are forced to foot the cost of maintenance and operations as a result of damages on the Internet infrastructure, which has been attributed to road and building constructions in the country.

Experts said regular disruption of Internet connectivity directly contributes to high cost of high speed Internet and other broadband-based services.

Ghislain Nkeramugaba, chief executive of Rwanda Information Communication Technology Association (RICTA) — the organisation that represents the country’s Internet community told Rwanda Today that ICT players are working towards addressing this challenge.

According to Mr Nkeramugaba, high cost of operations and maintenance have been cited by Internet service providers (ISP) as key contributor to the increased cost of broadband.

“Operators told us that since they are service providers and have a lot of maintenance cost mainly due to unplanned maintenance as a result of damages to fibre, they need to levy high charges so that they have enough money to repair the fibre,” he said.

Internet service providers and other ICT players said secure broadband infrastructure and built in a more efficient way possible, will contribute to lower price of Internet to the end users.

“Since the high cost of maintenance of fibre is still prohibitively high as what we heard from the providers it indicates that it is one factor that makes Internet cost high” said Mr Nkeramugaba.

Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura) — the telecom regulator — has licensed three operators to install fibre optic cables around the country. Liquid Telecom Ltd was authorised to lay fibre on 69 sites, KT Rwanda Networks 25 and MTN Rwanda in three sites.

Earlier this year, Sam Nkusi, chief of Liquid Telecom Ltd, the leader in fibre businesses by number of sites appealed to developers and others who are in construction sector to stop destroying broadband cables.

Mr Nkeramugaba told this paper, the expenses on fibre maintenance and other related operations could be as high as millions of dollars.

In mid November, key issues related to broadband infrastructures will be discussed in the country’s Internet Governance Forum — an annual gathering for the country’s Internet users and business community.

Meanwhile, Internet users and businesses that mainly depend on broadband services hope to make fibre optic a utility like clean water and electricity.

Despite its foundation role in ICT sector growth, the broadband is still considered a luxury by many in the country as reflected in the low Internet penetration rate of around 33 per cent as of 2016.