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Uganda gets free Internet access

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th January 2003 03:00 AM

As the world celebrates 20 years of the Internet as we know it today, Uganda gets a serving of free Internet access.

As the world celebrates 20 years of the Internet as we know it today, Uganda gets a serving of free Internet access.

By Vincent Mugaba

As the world celebrates 20 years of the Internet as we know it today, Uganda gets a serving of free Internet access.

For the first time, uganda telecom’s freenet and MTN Internet Easy promised free Internet access in the country.

The developed world has had free Internet access for over a decade.

In the United Kingdom, Freeserve, one of the biggest, perhaps changed the Internet business in many ways uganda telecom’s freenet may.

In 1998 when Freeserve opened business, they offered truly free Internet access-no subscription or phone bills.

In less than a year, they had about two million subscribers, but freeserve soon hit a serious financial storm.

Today subscribers pay for the phone bills, but no subscription.

Freenet and Internet Easy follow the pay model. Posing as a client, I went to find out about the two services.

At Rwenzori Courts, uganda telecom’s Askan Schmeisser says freenet fundamentally makes every landline in Uganda into an Internet connection as long as you have a computer/laptop and modem. Set up and dial 0400 1000 and you are on the web.

Irrespective of time or location, you pay sh125 per minute, Schmeisser says. Though this is more expensive than the average Internet café, freenet is convenient.

You can log onto the Internet anytime. Absence of subscription fees saves you between $10 to $45 (sh18,750-75,000) per month.

On the downside, freenet does not give technical support except for the very basic. You also do not get a personal email like, mugaba@utlonline.co.ug. Only subscribers to paid service get all the above.

Where is the catch for utlonline?

There are no hidden costs whatsoever; the catch for freenet is the time you spend online.

From Rwenzori House, I went to UDB Towers home of Internet Easy. At the offices, I talked to one Prosy. Like freenet, MTN’s Internet Easy has no subscription fees. To enjoy Internet Easy, you need a fixed line or a mobile on Talk Time.

Only businesses can get a fixed line at sh1.5m, a connection fee of sh60,000, and monthly fee of sh15,000.

You must also have a current account. Cell phone owners must get on Talk Time at sh34,800 a month, and connection sh45,000.

Connection fee only applies to new clients. Prosy says MTN recommends Nokia 6000 series up (nothing about other phone models).

All done, you fill a registration form and choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP)-one2net or AfricaOnline.

Like freenet, Internet Easy makes money on phone calls-sh250 on mobile, and sh190 or sh140 for fixed lines.

At 9.6kbps, the mobile connection is so slow compared to 28-46kbps from a landline.

However, the advantage is that with a laptop, you have mobile Internet access.

Internet Easy also gives you a personal email, e.g. mugaba@ISP-of-your-choice.co.ug.

There is no doubt that freenet and Internet Easy have forever changed the face of the Internet in Uganda.

Next, expect lower prices as more ISPs move to free access. But there are challenges.

I found nothing on the new services on utlonline.co.ug, mtn.co.ug, one2net.co.ug and africaonline.co.ug websites, yet these are the ISPs.

So, I emailed AfricaOnline and one2net about Internet Easy. I am yet to hear from AfricaOnline.

One2net answered, and even offered more help at the “toll free” 121.

However, the last time I did, it set me back several shillings and no help. Customer care is another challenge. When talking to Prossy at MTN, never for once did she look at me, gesturing me to talk on. She was apparently busy sending sms at www.mtn.co.ug.

Still, pitfalls and all other unfortunate factors, freenet and Internet Easy provide great opportunities you should not fail to exploit.

Writer at:
editor@enteruganda.com

Uganda gets free Internet access

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