Airtel enters broadband competition

January 24, 2014No Comments

Airtel Bharti-Rwanda has launched a new broadband internet device that will enables subscribers to use high-speed wireless connectivity.

The device, dubbed ‘office in a box’, has an Internet router that connects about 33 computers, and four additional ports to connect more computers as well as an analog telephone

The device will also small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) to access the Internet at anytime and anywhere as a way of offering solutions to enhance efficiency and doing business at reduced cost, says John Magara, the Airtel brand and communications manager.

The new device will see competition from existing broadband providers like Broadband Systems Corporation (BSC), MTN, Tigo, and Korea Telecommunications (KT), New Artel and Altech Stream, who have similar products on the market.

Though internet usage has largely penetrated the Rwandan business and social sectors, broadband access is one of the lowest due to costs and subscription charges.

In June 2013, the Government of Rwanda and KT Corporation ( KT), South Korea’s largest telecommunications provider, signed an initial 25 year term shareholders agreement to establish a Joint Venture (JV) Company to deploy a high-speed (4G LTE ) broadband network to cover 95 per cent of the population in three years.

Rwanda continues to implement a rapid succession of creative initiatives towards its policy goal to transform Rwanda into a knowledge-based society, using ICT as a key enabler. These initiatives include 3,000 km of the national fibre optic infrastructure completed in 2010.

The country currently relies on three submarine fibre optic cable systems for internet connection such as the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), The East African Marine Systems (TEAMS) and SEACOM through local telecommunication companies and Internet Service Providers (ISP’s).

Rwanda ranks top in East Africa and 7th in Africa among countries with active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2011, according to the United Nations Broadband Commission for Digital Development 2012 report.

As of September 2013, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority, figures show that 15.8 per cent (or 1,674,053 subscribers) of the population are connected to the Internet. This is an increase from 1,324,409 Internet subscribers in September 2012.

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