Uganda gets WiMax network

By Vanessa Haarhoff, ITWeb African correspondent
Johannesburg, 01 Jun 2006

Uganda`s largest Internet service provider, Infocom, last week started rolling out a WiMax broadband technology network in the country`s capital, Kampala.

Infocom GM Hans Haerdtle says the need for the network is driven by the country`s economic growth.

"We aim to have 85% metropolitan coverage within the next three months, with an investment of around $250 000," he adds.

"Aside from targeting the classical corporate market segments, we are looking especially at small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and residential markets."

The equipment includes an antenna mounted on a client`s building, which can serve over 1 000 customers, covering a distance of 3km-30km in an area, says Haerdtle. He explains that a system operating at 10Gbps would help increase business productivity in the country enormously.

Celtel Uganda, a sister company to Infocom, is planning to take the new technology to other East African countries, according to Haerdtle, who sees huge potential for growth in the market.

"The East African market has untapped growth prospects for wireless broadband connectivity because of the open government policies towards ICT development in the region, especially in Uganda."

Haerdtle notes that the nature of the wireless technology is ideal for the African market, because it requires little fixed-line infrastructure in place to work, which ultimately means quick deployment potential.

WiMax technology can also cost-effectively meet the requirements of SMEs in low-density environments, and provide a cost-effective alternative in urban areas competing with DSL and leased-line services, which charge high connection fees, Haerdtle says.

He explains that the high-speed data infrastructure is a great opportunity for the East African market, as it elevates business operations to function in the global economy at speed.