• ISPs gear up for high speed Internet connections
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Rwanda are preparing for the submarine fibre optic cable connection that stretch from the East African coast to different interior destinations of the region.
New Artel, a government Information Communication Technology (ICT) company has said that it is also in talks with SEACOM, the company that owns and operates a submarine fibre-optic cable connecting communication carriers in south and East Africa about the possibility of being connected to the cable.
“We are negotiating with SEACOM on the possibility of getting connected once the cables reach Kigali,” Francis Karemera, New Artel CEO said yesterday.
“We don’t know when the cables will reach Kigali since there is no link between Mbarara and Katuna,” he added.
Karemera said that though negotiations are going on with SEACOM, the government firm that offers telecommunication services in rural areas of Rwanda, is also examining other connection alternatives that will depend on the cost.
The other firms engineering the marine cable across the region include TEAMS (The East African Marine System), which is spearheaded by the Kenyan government and the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) from Tanzania.
Internet Service Provider for Africa (ISPA) is also negotiating for connection. The company’s Director, Yvon Kaningu told Business Times that the service will be available to clients once a contract is signed.
Similarly, Khaled Makkawi, the CEO of MTN-Rwanda said that the Nyarutama-based telecommunication company will be able to tap from the cables once connections reach the border of Gatuna.
“We will have the connections through another company but only if the deal is done,” he explained recently in an interview.
The current status of play means that only two of the ten ISP licensed companies are in advanced stages of getting connected to the fibre optic cable.
Altech Stream Rwanda is closing in on having interim connections while Rwandatel expects to be connected by the end of this month through its sister company, Uganda Telecom (UTL).
Altech Stream Rwanda, owned by Altech Stream East Africa temporary connections known as MicroWave connections will remain as a backup to the cable connections that are expected in three months.
Altech Stream East Africa is also made up of Kenya Data Network of Kenya and Infocom of Uganda. Company officials say that MicroWave connection will cost about $2 million (Rwf1.1 billion) while fibre optic will cost up to $10 million (Rwf5.7 billion).
The undersea cable network via a terrestrial cable stretching from Mombasa through to Nairobi, Kampala will allow East Africans enjoy high-speed internet, digital television, video conferencing, tele-medicine, digital villages and many other benefits.
According to statistics from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authorities (RURA) as of December 2008, MTN Rwanda has about 47.6 percent of the market, 1.78 percent for New Artel, 0.79 percent for ISPA while Altech Stream Rwanda has about 0.22 percent.