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Airtel boss defends lacklustre spending on internet infrastructure

By Billy Rwothungeyo

Added 13th June 2017 06:25 PM

Internet costs in Uganda remain high when compared to more developed markets, due to shortfalls in infrastructure

Internet costs in Uganda remain high when compared to more developed markets, due to shortfalls in infrastructure

 

Anwar Soussa, Airtel Uganda's Managing Director has defended the slow investment in internet infrastructure by players in the telecom industry.

Speaking at the announcement of a partnership between Airtel Uganda and BCS to roll out 800 kilometres of optical fibre in the Northern districts of Gulu, Adjumani, Arua, Koboko, Nebbi and Kamdini, Soussa insisted that users in Uganda get what they pay for.

"That (spending on infrastructure) should never concern anyone on the outside….infrastructure spending concerns us. The market determines the price. How much people are able and willing to spend is what we charge our customers," he explained.

"The fact is, if we spend more than we are required to spend, we lose money."

Internet costs in Uganda remain high when compared to more developed markets, due to shortfalls in infrastructure. Besides the cost, internet speeds in the country are also still agonizingly slow, averaging just over 1.5 Mbps, a far cry from the global average of 4.5 Mbps, according to data from Akamai's "State of the Internet".

"An hour of mobile web browsing (equating to approximately 10 Mb of data) costs sh300 (US$0.10), while a limited monthly bundle of 1 GB costs between sh35,000 and 42,000 (US$12-16). Meanwhile, 10 GB of an unlimited mobile broadband connection can cost sh125,000 (US$43) for one month and over US$259 for six months," reads a report from freedomhouse.org.

While MTN Uganda, Vodafone and Africell have 4G services rolled out across towns in Uganda, Airtel Uganda does not.

Soussa revealed that Airtel will soon follow suit.

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