The long-awaited Fourth Generation Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE) Internet did not kick off on September 1 as earlier envisioned due to “technical and contractual” challenges, an official at the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority (Rura) has said.
Having previously agreed to launch the service on September 1, Internet service providers, including telecom companies, have since agreed to postpone the kickoff date to next month.
“There are some technical issues that must be sorted out before the 4G network can be satisfactorily launched. The operators approached us and asked that the deadline be extended to October. Once we agreed on the exact date, we will communicate,” Patrick Nyirishema, the director-general of Rura, said.
Spearheaded by Olleh Rwanda Networks (ORN), a joint venture between the government and Korea Telecom, 4G Internet is expected to usher in many advantages to Internet users, including download and upload speed, which is rated to be 10 times faster than other Internet modules.
4G LTE is also consistent and designed to handle demanding data loads.
However, anxious users must now wait until those involved in the negotiations agree and stand by a new deadline.
“Tigo is ready to launch 4G services, but we cannot do it now because we must do it in partnership with other providers,” Pierre Kayitana, the public relations and events manager at Tigo, told The New Times.
Some service providers such as MTN and Airtel had already placed adverts in the media indicating the cost of their 4G-compatible gadgets.
Airtel 4G SIM card costs Rwf20,000, the modems Rwf77,000, while routers, which can connect internet to over 30 computers cost Rwf98,000.
Officials from other telecom companies and Olleh Rwanda Networks were not available for comment by press time.
Monthly subscriptions will cost Rwf20,000 for 5GB, Rwf38,000 for 10GB and Rwf73,000 for 20GB.
Comparatively, MTN will charge Rwf500 for the SIM card, Rwf56,000 for the modem, Rwf60,000 for a wireless router that supports ten users and Rwf80,000 for one that supports 32 users.
In June, last year, the government and Korea Telecom – the largest telecommunications service provider in South Korea – signed a shareholders’ agreement to establish a joint venture to deploy a high-speed 4G network to cover 95 per cent of the population in three years.
ORN serves as wholesaler while the telecoms and internet service providers are retailers.
ORN conducted a successful trial phase in 13 government institutions, 13 public locations and 17 private sites, including hotels and companies. The trials ended in July.
The government aims to tick off one or more of the second Economic Development and Poverty Eradication Strategy (EDPRS II) targets by connecting all sectors of the economy to ICT services by 2018.