Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (Rura) and various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are exploring ways to increase internet speed to enable consumers use it more efficiently.
At a meeting, held yesterday at Telecom House and broadcast live on both the national TV and radio, focus was on how broadband services can be efficiently managed to benefit consumers.
“We want to see interests of users of telecommunication services protected. Consumers of Internet services should be in position to use the services more efficiently and effectively because they pay for it,” said Jean Baptiste Mutabazi, Rura’s head of communication and media regulation.
The government, in partnership with ISPs, has installed free wireless Internet hotspots in various restaurants, bars, hotels and bus stations within the city to enable Rwandans get familiar with the use of broadband.
“We want the ISPs to provide reliable, fast, affordable and quality broadband services to consumers because most businesses are done electronically nowadays,” Mutabazi said.
In June, government signed an agreement with South Korea’s largest telecom company, Korea Telecom, to deploy a high-speed 4G broadband network across the country to ensure fast, reliable and cheaper Internet.
Eddy Kayihura, the deputy chief technical officer at Broadband Systems Corporation (BSC), said with the rollout of fibre optic cable in the country, Internet costs have reduced unlike before when consumers accessed broadband services via satellite connection.
“Before optic cable rollout, a megabyte of Internet was costing $2000 (about Rwf1.3 million) but now its costs $125 (about Rwf83,125), which shows that the costs have greatly reduced,” he added.
BSC Ltd is a service provider managing a national fibre optic backbone and Internet Data Centre.
Norman Munyampundu, the MTN Rwanda customer relations manager, said their focus is providing quality and fast Internet by extending fibre cable rollout across the country.
“MTN has rolled out about 2000 kilometres of fibre in various towns in the country to reach consumers like banks and other Internet users,” Munyampundu said.
He said they have technicians who are on standby to repair broadband services in case of a glitch.
MTN Rwanda is among other ISPs that have selected sites within the city that provide free wireless Internet based on their network availability.
Carine Umurerwa, the information category manager at Tigo Rwanda, said they installed free Internet to Groupe Scolaire, Kimisagara, to enable efficient ICT services for students.
However, Damien Ndizeye, the head of consumer protection at the Association for the Defence of Consumers’ Rights, said consumers are normally frustrated by poor and slow Internet.
“We want to see a trend where broadband services in the country are benefiting every user. We hope 4G network will solve all Internet-related challenges,” he said.
The forum brought together government officials, members of ISPs, and Internet consumers, among others.