Kigali to get interim fibre connections this week

Kigali City will this week get temporary connections to the fibre-optic backbone through a MicroWave access from Kampala, The Business Times has learnt.
Primary School boys try to surf the Internet with one of the Laptops given to them. (File Photo)
Primary School boys try to surf the Internet with one of the Laptops given to them. (File Photo)

Kigali City will this week get temporary connections to the fibre-optic backbone through a MicroWave access from Kampala, The Business Times has learnt.

Peter Matayo, Head of Infrastructure at Kenya Data Networks, a sister company to Altech Stream Rwanda said that the interim connections from Uganda to Kigali are expected within the course of this week.

“This will see the current VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) connections phased out gradually as we wait for the permanent fibre-optical connectivity later this year,” he said.

Matayo explained that the interim connections have a better performance speed than VSAT access.

“There will no longer be a need to go through satellite to communicate across the border as has been the case. This will mean a considerable reduction in internet consumer prices compared to VSAT costs,” he added.

“Connection costs may drop by about 80 percent, depending on the capacity,” Matayo said.

According to the Regional Business Development Manager for Altech Stream East Africa, Nick Odero, Altech plans about $2 million (Rwf1.1 billion) investment for the MicroWave connection

“This (MicroWave) will remain as a backup to the fibre, which is expected to touch Kigali within three months with an investment of up to $10 million (Rwf5.7 billion),” he explained.

“The undersea cable network via a terrestrial cable from Mombasa through to Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali has a high performance level,” Odero added.

This new technology will allow East Africans enjoy high-speed internet, digital television, video conferencing, tele-medicine, digital villages and many other benefits.

Altech Stream East Africa, made up of telecoms operators Kenya Data Network of Kenya, Infocom of Uganda and Altech Stream Rwanda, has completed the installation of the 1,500km fibre backbone from Mombasa to Kampala, Nairobi.

The companies are part of a South African investment holding company involved in the telecommunications, multi-media and information technology.

Presently, only three East African Community (EAC) are connected; Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

In related developments to have Rwanda connected to submarine cables, Rwandatel’s Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Kariningufu said that the company may be connections in the next three weeks.

“We will be connected through our sister company (Uganda Telecom) as we also consider other options,” Kariningufu said.
“We are thinking of connections from Tanzania and Uganda covering the whole country with investments worth $20 million (Rwf11.4 billion),” he added.

According to statistics from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authorities (RURA), Rwandatel leads the internet market share with about 49.5 percent followed by MTN-Rwandacell with 47.6 percent.

Altech Stream Rwanda, which started its operations two years back, has a market share of about 0.22 percent as of December 2008.

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