Rates for internet and pay TV in Uganda are poised to when the 1.45b Dirham (about sh1.2trillion) Al Yah 3 satellite is launched.
By Samuel Sanya
Rates for internet and pay TV in Uganda are poised to drop when the 1.45b Dirham (about sh1.2trillion) Al Yah 3 satellite is launched, as analysts weigh in that improved internet access will increase jobs and reduce business costs.
Abu Dhabi-based company, Yahsat, which launched in Uganda two years ago has completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) phase of its third satellite that will be launched in 2016.
Analysts predict that the launch of the Al Yah 3 satellite will give service providers alternative choice and ultimately lower the costs to the end users of digital television and internet broadband.
"This is a significant step forward in the development phase of Al Yah 3 and ensures that we are on track to launch as scheduled for Q4 2016," Marcus Vilaça, the Yahsat acting Chief Technical Officer said.
Christopher Richmond, Senior Vice President of Orbital, the company that is building the satellite noted that the Al Yah 3 will use new hybrid electric propulsion GEOStar-3-based technology.
Uganda is currently served by internet cable through the East African Marine System (TEAMS) and the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) covering a 17,000km distance at a cost of more than $650m (sh1.8 trillion).
Reacting to the development, Fred Okot, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) publicist noted that satellite and fibre complement each other.
He said that the arrival of new players will increase competition and feed into higher efficiency, quality and better rates for the customers to enjoy.
"It's a welcome development. While satellite has been known to be expensive it plays a key role in access to internet where fibre cannot go. Any additional medium that will provide quality service is welcome," Otunnu said.
Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director pointed out during the launch of Yahsat in Uganda, that internet rates dropped 30% when fibre optic cable was introduced in the country.
He added that rates are expected to drop further with competition and increased internet usage by both retail and commercial segments in the country.
Tina Wamala, the Multichoice - DSTV publicist pointed out that the new technology employed in the Al Yah 3 satellite will enhance the quality of service that Ugandans currently enjoy.
She added that increased internet access will boost their move toward online pay Tv services. "Greater access to internet will boost migration toward our online android based applications," she said.
John Birungi Babirukamu, a digital media consultant says that increased competition will lower internet costs. This in turn will reduce business costs and create jobs.
"It is easier to get internet to the remotest parts of the country through satellite than it is with fibre optic cable. However, the initial installation costs of sh0.3m are a little high for Ugandans," he added.
He explained that it is in Uganda's economic interest that bandwith prices drop fast especially in Uganda's 14 major municipalities such as Arua, Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Moroto, Mbale, Tororo, Jinja, Entebbe, Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Fort Portal and Hoima.
Approximately 12.5% of Ugandans have internet access, compared to neighbors Kenya and Tanzania at 25.9% and 11% respectively according to 2010 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reports.
New players in the internet sector and higher competition are expected to decrease rates and ultimately increase access to the internet in Uganda.
Optimism over sh1.2 trillion satellite project