By Billy Rwothungeyo
THE Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is coming up with infrastructure sharing guidelines that are aimed at bringing more order in telecom development in the country.
Since the undersea fibre optic option came on board in 2009, telecom companies have all been setting up infrastructure individually.
In some cases as telecoms dig up the ground to lay cable, water supply is disrupted as pipes are damaged.
Recently, MP Bagiire Waiswa, the vice-chairman of the parliamentary committee on ICT, partly blamed the high cost of the Internet to the failure of telecoms to share infrastructure.
“The challenge we have today is that when the Government digs up a road (to install Internet cables), Orange, Airtel and MTN then dig up the same spot. We need to find a mechanism of sharing infrastructure,” he said.
After opening the fourth edition of the Orange expo last week, Patrick Mwesigwa, the UCC director for technology and licensing, said the trend will be history next year when the regulations are implemented.
“These guidelines will require that telecom companies to share infrastructure wherever it is feasible. They will apply to things like ducts for cables and masts for masts and other passive infrastructure,” he said.
Mwesigwa also revealed that UCC has already started working with the works ministry and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to put up ducts along roads to allow telecoms to use them while fixing their cables.
Before the sea-cable reached Uganda, Internet connectivity was made through the very expensive satellite link.
Even with telecom companies investing in infrastructure, mainly cables from the coast and wireless broadband, the cost of Internet is still high.
Internet penetration in Uganda has stalled at 12.5%, with connectivity via mobile phone growing rapidly at an estimated 80% annually.