New Artel, SEACOM deal edges closer

New Artel, a government owned Internet Service Provider (ISP) is negotiating a deal with SEACOM to obtain access to fibre optic cables, according to the institution’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Francis Karemera told The Business Times that a proposal has been presented to SEACOM defining conditions of accessing and using the cable.
New Artel clients will no longer have to depend on satellite (File Photo)
New Artel clients will no longer have to depend on satellite (File Photo)

New Artel, a government owned Internet Service Provider (ISP) is negotiating a deal with SEACOM to obtain access to fibre optic cables, according to the institution’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Francis Karemera told The Business Times that a proposal has been presented to SEACOM defining conditions of accessing and using the cable.

“We expect to finalise all conditions with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) possibly by Monday,” he explained.

This will pave way for the government owned ISP company to access the fibre optic cables connected from the SEACOM Point-of-Presence (POP) through Kenya and Uganda to the Katuna border.

The cables currently stretch from the East African coast to different interior destinations of Uganda and Tanzania.

SEACOM is a 1.28 Tbps capacity undersea cable linking South and East Africa to Europe and Asia via the Red Sea, Egypt and the Mediterranean.

SEACOM plans to give open access to capacity and landing infrastructure which is expected to drive international backbone prices down by 90 percent.

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are already connected to the SEACOM cable which allows user enjoy high-speed Internet, digital television, video conferencing, tele-medicine, digital villages and many other benefits.

The availability of SEACOM bandwidth is also expected to lower Internet browsing prices 10 times less than the current cost.

Karemera said that the MoU will be valid for a year but with a possibility of extension.

“This will depend on how they (SEACOM) honour their obligations stipulated in the contract,” he added without revealing financial commitments involved.

It was however revealed earlier that New Artel that offers telecommunication services in rural areas of Rwanda would consider the cost of connection among other factors before committing itself into agreement.

The other options included tapping bandwidth from other cables like TEAMS (The East African Marine System), which is spearheaded by the Kenyan government another called the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) that is expected to dock on the coast by next year.

Once the agreement is reached, New Artel with a local market share estimated at 2 percent will be the third local ISP to obtain a right of accessing the SEACOM fibre optic cables.

SEACOM also recently went into partnership with Lap Green Networks a company which has a majority stake in both Rwandatel and the Kampala based, Uganda Telecom.

Though the fibres are yet to reach Kigali, Altech Stream Rwanda has interim microwave connections through its parent company, Altech Stream East Africa, which is also made up of Kenya Data Network (KDN) of Kenya and Infocom of Uganda.

Meanwhile, other ISP companies are believed to be in talks for connection.

Information from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authorities (RURA) as of December 2008 shows that the country’s Internet market is dominated by Rwandatel followed by MTN Rwanda.

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