High-speed 4G Internet finally ready for roll-out

The much-awaited Fourth Generation Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE) Internet is now ready for launch and will be operational beginning tomorrow, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura) has said.
Workers install fibre optic cables in Kimihurura, Kigali, on Sunday. (Timothy Kisambira)
Workers install fibre optic cables in Kimihurura, Kigali, on Sunday. (Timothy Kisambira)

The much-awaited Fourth Generation Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE) Internet is now ready for launch and will be operational beginning tomorrow, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura) has said.

The broadband Network, which was scheduled to be operational as of September 1, had been postponed due to what stakeholders termed as “technical challenges.”

Patrick Nyirishema, the director-general of Rura, said everything is in place for the network’s launch tomorrow, describing it as an addition to the existing information and communication technology eco-system.

“It is a new addition to the ecosystem, whatever benefits citizens were receiving due to ICT development in the country, will now increase in terms of speed and efficiency,” Nyirishema said.

“We are increasing accessibility and internet speed, we are making it easier for people to do business and have impact on fellow citizens.”

Speaking in Kigali during the annual Smart Rwanda Days, Dr Hamadoun Toure, the secretary-general of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said as nations continue to pursue advancements in ICT such as 4GLTE, they should be reminded of issues of affordability and accessibility.

On affordability, Nyirishema said as the regulator, they were sure it would be good business and sustainable in the long run. He said the service will not be priced very differently from the 3G service that has been accessible previously.

“As a regulator we have an interest in ensuring that all the licensed entities are profitable because it is only then that we can have sustainability of the services they are issuing in the market. By issuing a licence it shows that we are content that it is good business,” Nyirishema said.

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Workers installing fibre optic cables at Kimihurura. (Timothy Kisambira)

He said government had and will continue its support for ICT literacy to make the service impactful on the lives of citizens.

Broad-scope venture

Fronted by Olleh Rwanda Networks (ORN), a joint investment between the government and Korea Telecom, 4G Internet is expected to offer in many advantages to Internet users, including download and upload speed, which is rated to be 10 times faster than other Internet modules.

Nyirishema said the joint venture looked at more than just return on investment; it considered the economic impact.

Under the terms of reference in shareholders’ agreement the cash input is a private investment by Korea Telecom, while government made an entity contribution in the form of optic fibre infrastructure which was already in place.

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Workers installing fibre optic cables at Kimihurura. (Timothy Kisambira)

Briefing the media on Friday, the Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, said the rollout of 4GLTE will speed up national development goals by boosting job creation in Rwanda and provide new opportunities to deliver better services across the country.

“The deployment of high-speed broadband network in Rwanda will accelerate Rwanda’s economic growth, create jobs, as well as help facilitate social and economic progress,” the minister said.

Under the deal, ORN plays the role of whole seller and the telecoms and intern service providers (ISPs) are the retailers.

The service has so far had a successful trial phase in more than 10 public institutions as well as 17 private sites, including hotels and companies, which ended in July.

Local service providers such as Airtel and MTN had begun gearing up for the retail of the service by placing advertisements of the services and compatible gadgets.

Rwanda targets to have 95 per cent of citizens with access to fast and secure Internet by 2017.

According to Rura, 20 per cent of the population were active Internet users by March.

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