City dwellers see a godsend advance in free wireless Internet

Following the launch of free wireless internet service in specific areas within the City of Kigali, last week, under the ‘Smart Kigali’ initiative, residents have expressed gratitude over the project.
An MTN vendor browses the WiFi currently accessible in most parts of City of the Kigali using his mobile phone. The New Times/ T. Kisambira.
An MTN vendor browses the WiFi currently accessible in most parts of City of the Kigali using his mobile phone. The New Times/ T. Kisambira.

Following the launch of free wireless internet service in specific areas within the City of Kigali, last week, under the ‘Smart Kigali’ initiative, residents have expressed gratitude over the project.

The designated areas for free access to wireless Internet (WiFi–a local area network that uses high frequency signals to transmit and receive data over distances of a few hundred feet using ethernet protocol) include public buses, King Faisal Hospital, Nyabugogo Taxi Park, and commercial buildings and restaurants.

“I am so excited about the wireless Internet; I can now browse the internet, read news and send e-mails without recharging phone. I just come here to surf the Internet since I am still looking for jobs,” said Goreti Uwamariya, who was at Kigali Public Library on Wednesday. She is a fresh graduate from Kigali Independent University (ULK).

Uwamariya said this is a unique way for people to keep online at no cost.

Uwamariya, who this paper found enjoying WiFi, said she uses the service to search for employment because it is not that easy to get a job if one depends on newspaper adverts.

With a couple of WiFi hotspots within in the City, broadband customers will stay connected to work, family and friends.

The initiative is a partnership between the City of Kigali, Internet service providers and government agencies such as Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency and Rwanda Development Board, as well as the Rwanda Hotel and Restaurant Association.

It aims at enabling nationals enjoy the benefits that come with the power of broadband for personal use or business from a long list of hotspot locations.

“I have been having problems with loading data on my phone whenever I want to surf but now I go to some locations in the city to access it for free. I hope this will last,” Jean de Dieu Dusenge, a telecommunication engineering student at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (Kist).

WiFi distribution

Dusenge told this paper that he will now be a regular visitor at Union Trade Centre to access free Kigali broadband services.

MTN Rwanda, Tigo, Airtel, Broadband Systems Corporation, Liquid Telecom and other Internet service providers have selected sites based on their network availability.

“We are happy with the free Internet, this shows how our country is committed to ensure reliable, fast and accessible internet services to the public,” said Jovani Ntabgoba, a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) consultant at the Private Sector Federation chamber of ICT.

Ntabgoba, who was enjoying Kigali free Internet services at MTN Centre, said it was a great opportunity for people to read news, send and receive e-mails, network with their other people using fast broadband services at a free cost.

Nyabugogo Taxi Park and King Faisal Hospital will jointly be serviced by Tigo and Airtel.

Benefits of Internet

Florent Ndutiye, a journalist with Radio 10, said it was an opportune moment for city dwellers to enjoy the benefits of Internet.

“Internet is growing with tremendous speed. It has become part of people’s lives because everything we need to know about the world is found on the internet. Life without internet cannot be imagined. I am so happy for the free wireless internet; we look forward to more life changing initiatives,” he said.

Ndutiye taps free wireless broadband whenever he visits Remera-Kisementi area.

BSC Limited, ISPA, MTN Rwanda and Liquid Telecom share MTN Centre, the Remera-Kisementi area, Amahoro National Stadium, Kigali Public Library, Kigali International Airport, KBC, Kacyiru-ministries, Kist and KIE.

“We’re giving our customers the mobility tools they need to go online more often and in more places,” Albert Kinuma, the head of Business at MTN Rwanda Cell told The New Times on Wednesday.

“We think the new WiFi service will be a real value for clients, and we’re anxious to see them browse Internet, connect with their friends and family.”

He said MTN provides customers with an internet browser that is faster, free and reliable and he hopes to see more people subscribing to it to stay connected in their homes.

Fifteen of Kigali Bus Services’ large buses have also been equipped with the service. 

In June, South Korea’s premier telecom company, Korea Telecom, entered into a deal with Rwanda to deploy 4G Long Term Evolution broadband network across the country to ensure faster, more reliable and cheaper Internet services.

The government says it wants to change the lives of Rwandan citizens using broadband.

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