The telecom terrain in Rwanda is slowly taking shape. Just ten years ago all we had was MTN Rwanda which exploited the monopoly with its rather high tariffs and hardly any special offers to the clients.
With three big players which include; MTN Rwanda, Rwandatel and Tigo, the games have now begun, if I may borrow the famous Olympic cliché.
The different service providers are battling to attract new clients and keep the existing ones through all sorts of promotions and service improvements.
The call rates are now at their lowest and the general customer approach has really improved.
I wonder whether we even still remember the times when a call to the customer care service would only result in a reminder of the company’s working hours!
One of the areas where telecom competition has been intensified is that of mobile Internet where subscribers with fairly sophisticated handsets can surf the internet on their mobile phones anywhere they can receive the service provider’s signal.
Not surprisingly, many users have now discovered this magic and it is not so rare to find someone updating his Face book status while traveling in a public commuter taxi.
Others check their mail or news sites on their handsets. The hassle of having to check if that important mail got to your inbox is now a thing of the past.
With all this magic in the comfort of our palms and flexibility of our thumbs, I still have fears. Fears that I believe the users are ignoring at their own peril.
In the first place, mobile Internet often results in a stripped down offer of information where several functions and links that are available while using a computer are not provided.
This is bound to stretch the digital age problem of receiving information in small doses. On the phone, some images are not available and where they are then the cost of accessing them may turn out to be very prohibitive.
Then we have the heath concerns to look at. Several people have had their eye sight troubled by the constant staring at computer screens.
This can only be worsened with the use of phones that are many times smaller. While surfing the internet on your phone, you have to deal with the problem of very small fonts.
Mobile Internet is also bound to aggravate the already lethal habit of writing an SMS while driving. Several reports have already identified this as one of the leading causes of deadly road accidents in the modern world.
In one extreme case, a young girl was reported to have fallen in an open manhole while walking on the street busy writing text messages.
Although technology is said to always improve life, we still need to pay attention to the dangers involved. We should not over indulge in this mobile internet revolution to the point of smashing our cars or falling into open pits.
I am still of the conviction that better broadband internet for office and home users is a much better deal than the risky (and brief) mobile internet.