Uganda accelerates 3G network deployment in rural areas

From HASSAN ONYANGO in Kampala, Uganda
KAMPALA, (CAJ News) – UGANDA is advancing the deployment of 3G wireless communications infrastructure and expanding high quality, affordable broadband access for businesses and communities in the rural areas.

The East African country’s industry regulator, Uganda’s Communications Commission (UCC), will utilise Intelsat satellite services and Gilat Satellite Network’s ground infrastructure to achieve that goal.

Under a pilot programme, the UCC will use IntelsatOne Mobile Reach Solar 3G satellite services delivered via the Intelsat 37e satellite and Gilat’s SkyEdge II-c multi-application platform to provide high-quality, resilient and affordable broadband connectivity to two communities, namely Bufundi in Rubanda and Kibuku in Ntoroko.

The improved performance, efficiency and lower total cost of ownership delivered by Intelsat 37e, the fifth of the Intelsat EpicNG satellites and one of three serving Africa, will enable Uganda to quickly and seamlessly extend broadband connectivity to rural areas of the country in a cost-efficient manner.

Godfrey Mutabazi, UCC Executive Director, said extending broadband connectivity and delivering fast, affordable internet services remained one of the government’s primary missions.

With more than 80 percent of the population living in rural areas, this had been a technological and budgetary challenge, he said.

Uganda has a total population of more than 41,5 million.

“With this combined effort and the innovative approach the companies are bringing, we believe citizens in some of our most isolated communities will experience the power of reliable connectivity and the economic and social benefits it delivers,” Mutabazi said.

This effort will be instrumental in helping accelerate the Uganda government’s broadband strategy, particularly its goal of achieving minimum broadband speeds of 3 megabits per second (Mbps) and coverage of 100 percent of Uganda’s rural areas by 2020.

Stephen Spengler, Intelsat Chief Executive Officer, said satellite services had been at the core of communications networks throughout Africa for decades but too many people in rural areas remained unconnected.

“New business models such as IntelsatOne Mobile Reach will truly solve the cost and deployment problems associated with reaching rural populations and be the tipping point in the effort to support economic growth, deliver life-changing services, and connect all of Africa,” Spengler said.

Gordon Kyomukama, Chief Technical Officer of MTN, the leading network operator, said the company had a dual data strategy and sought new and innovative methods to efficiently expand its network to rural areas.

In doing so, it has partnered with the UCC, Gilat, Intelsat and International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation to offer a greater broadband experience.

“Today, we are bringing broadband connectivity to two rural communities and fulfilling our mission—to brighten the lives of customers that we serve,” he said.
 CAJ News

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