Recently, 4G internet users have been receiving messages from their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) informing them that they will stop supplying them with 4G unlimited products for smartphones.
Without providing reasons, the messages inform the clients that these products will be halted on July 1.
However, The New Times has established that the development is as a result of changes at KTRN, the sole wholesaler of 4G Internet in the country, which is switching from “speed based products” to “volume-based products” for smartphones.
Speed-based products are internet packages that don’t get exhausted within a particular period of time no matter how it is used. On the other hand, volume-based products get exhausted depending on how the user consumes them.
For KTRN, with effect from July 1, all its smartphone speed based products will no longer be on market for wholesale to the ISPs. And these products include the popular unlimited 4G internet packages: basic, standard and premium.
Why is the move?
According to Elijah Iragaba, the Chief Technology and Information Officer at KTRN, the move is aimed at improving 4G quality for smartphone users, in addition to solving quality issues regarding 4G unlimited packages, that had even attracted criticism from clients
Iragaba told The New Times in an interview that the unlimited 4G Internet for smartphones was designed to have minimum basic requirements for its market at very affordable prices.
However, he says in its making, it had some limitations in regards to speed and tethering which created complaints from a section of users that wanted maximum 4G speed and features.
He says some took to social media to claim they were being cheated.
“It (the 4G unlimited) was designed to be used on mobile phones. But people would tether it on other devices like office computers and would experience poor quality because of product limitation hence the complaints,” he explained.
Iragaba said KTRN’s new products that replace the halted ones “will be very competitive in terms of prices and will be much faster.”
“Currently they are on promotion and can be found at KTRN retailers,” he said.
One ISP firm that we spoke to told us that KTRN informed them of the changes around the end of May, saying that the change may affect their sales since 4G unlimited was a popular product among clients.
What RURA says
Charles Gahungu the General Manager of ICT Regulation at Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), said he knows about the complaints concerning the quality of the network of unlimited services.
“From KTRN’s side, their explanation was that basically this product is good for some people, but again it was killing the image of the 4G,” he said.
He said it depends on KTRN to decide the products they put on market.