Archive for September, 2009

Kato Mivule | Sept 29 2009
Despite the High Speed Broadband Internet Infrastructure in Africa, prices are still a major issue with opportunists seeking to make a quick profit. African corrupt and despotic leaders don’t offer any much help and it will only be quite some time before Africa actually benefits from the undersea Fiber Optic infrastructure… Cheap High Speed Internet will stay out of reach for Many Africans due to corruption, mismanagement, and lack of foresight, empathy, and concern by the African leadership…

Reduce Internet Costs | All Africa | Sept 29, 2009
Nairobi — When the undersea fibre-optic landed at the Kenya coast two months ago, there was high expectation that it would lead to efficient and cost-effective Internet connectivity. Although it is too early to make a critical assessment, consumers have no reason to smile yet.

As we published in our business segment, “Smart Company”, yesterday, there is no trickle-down effect and by the look of things, it may a little longer before consumers reap dividends of expanded bandwidth and increased speed associated with the fibre-optic. Yet, prior to that, consumers were made to believe that the undersea cable would be the surest answer to encumbrances wrought by terrestrial connectivity.

Africa Undersea Fiber Optic Cable

Africa Undersea Fiber Optic Cable

With the slow pace of price change, experts and consumers are beginning to ask tough questions. Why can’t the prices go down? Are Internet service providers forming a cartel to keep the prices high? Maybe investors into Seacom and the East African Marines System can explain the variables at play. But one of the unspoken reasons is their desire to recoup their investment by keeping the prices high.

The essence of technology is to make life easier. This is what the fibre-optic cable was meant to achieve. Internet is a key driver of business, and since access has been made easy through the fibre-optic option, the service providers must just reduce costs for the end-users.

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Kato Mivule

UTL teams up with SEACOM and a sixth Telecom Company Launches in Uganda…However, There is so much Choice for Voice Services yet still Data Services are still lacking despite the current infrastructure… Looks like Ugandans have not yet bought into the ‘Data Services’ despite the transforming potential as Uganda’s footsteps…

Uganda Business News: Utl partners with SEACOM to offer improved services
Ultimate Media | Sept 21, 2009

The Managing Director of Uganda telecom Limited, Eng. AbdulBaset Elazzab has said Uganda telecom has partnered with SEACOM to offer improved services to its customers.

Elazzab says the partnership will help Uganda telecom to connect to the rest of the world via SUPER HIGH BANDWIDTH fiber optical through SEACOM.

According to the news release issued in Kampala today, the partnership will enable Uganda telecom to offer improved capacity and speed of internet access to customers.

UTL Logo

UTL Logo

Elazzab also says Uganda telecom will connect to TEAMS and EASSY this month. He says the connection will enable Uganda telecom to have over 1Gbps capacity.

Elazzab says the connection will also significantly improve the company’s connection to the rest of the world and will result in a total enhanced customer experience.

The Chief Technical Officer of Uganda telecom, Reza Hosseiny says the capacity purchase by Uganda telecom on SEACOM network will modify the local internet market and that their company looks forward to a new era of true ‘broadband’ across the Great Lakes Region.

Reza says downtimes will be heavily reduced and customers will be able to do a lot more with their services such as video streaming, triple play, heavy down and uploads among others.

He says Uganda telecom will increase the broadband capacity to the company’s customers at no extra charge.


Uganda Business News: Sixth Phone Company launches in Uganda
Ultimate Media | Sept 21, 2009

The sixth phone company, I Tel Limited has been launched at Serena Hotel, in Kampala.

This brings the number of phone companies to six after MTN, Zain, Uganda Telecom, Warid and Orange.

The new phone company plans to invest over 300 billion shillings in Uganda.

Speaking at the launch, the company’s chief executive officer, Augustus Mulenga said the phone company will invest the money over the next three years.

He says the company’s investment will depend on conditions reigning at Uganda’s market.

iTel Logo

iTel Logo

Mulenga says if the conditions are not conducive for their business the company will not invest all the money on the ground.

The chief executive officer says I tel is ready to compete in Uganda’s competitive phone business.

I-Tel Uganda Plans $150 Million Network Expansion | Bloomberg | Sept 21, 2009

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Kato Mivule | September 14, 2009

The events that happened this past weekend in Uganda and in particular Buganda leave one to wonder what the future in Africa holds. It is sad that lives had to be lost just because the Ugandan Government felt it wise to restrict the movement of its citizens within their nation and chose to use extremely excessive force in stopping demonstrators who then turned violent as they saw their civil liberties being denied.

The violence of both Museveni’s Government and the Demonstrators was uncalled for. Yet still it is the Museveni Government that is to be held accountable for the 20 or so people who were killed because the Government forces opened fire directly at the protestors. The demonstrators were unarmed and in no way did they warrant such deadly force.

It is therefore serving that Global Governments especially in the West call Museveni’s Government to account. There is no reason at all why Museveni ordered the killing of 20 innocent unarmed demonstrators. One fears that Uganda is slowly and quickly turning back to the Idi Amin – 1979 Era.

Uganda’s government did not find it satisfactory to shoot and kill innocent unarmed people but chose to have a News Blackout by closing many Radio Stations, TV Stations and arresting and torturing many in the Media who were simply doing their Job to report the news. President Museveni claims that the Media was inciting Violence, a charge he cannot and will not sustain in Ugandan Courts of Law. For Uganda’s Judiciary has never been friendly to Mr. Museveni and the next ‘war of riots’ will be between Museveni and the Judiciary as the Uganda’s Activist Judges throws out most of the cases.

However, the issue here insofar as technology is concerned is the deliberate failure of Uganda’s News Media to hold Mr. Museveni accountable by employing Technology to report news to the outside world that in turn would put pressure on Mr. Museveni to stop brutalizing and killing his own citizens.

It is as if Uganda’s News Media did not learn anything from the Iranian Crisis in which local citizens kept news flowing to the outside world despite the ‘Media Blackout’ by the Iranian Government.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging anyone to riot; my issue is with reporting news. There is absolutely no reason why we should be kept in the dark concerning what is happening in Uganda in the age of Technology and the High Speed Internet.

Buganda Crisis Riots| Image Scource: Daily Monitor - Kampala

Buganda Crisis Riots| Image Source: Daily Monitor - Kampala

Take for instance CBS FM the Buganda Radio Station that was taken off Air, they used to have a website years ago but they don’t even have a Free Blog that they can post news that they directly source and collect. Another radio is KFM which belongs to Monitor Newspaper; they don’t have any web presence at all. It is only Radio Saptienca with a live stream and Website but no Twitter Account and no Face Book Account.

It was only Independent Magazine by Andrew Mwenda that tried to keep the rest of the world updated by what was going on in Uganda and thanks to www.twitter.com/#kampala among other twits, news kept flowing.

Monitor Newspaper tried but failed and seemed to faze out news updates when the reporters went to sleep.

Yet CBS FM which has an audience of over 10 Million Listeners should have been proactive and invested in a website or at least a free Blog page that they could employ to update their listeners in Uganda and also the huge Baganda and Ugandan Following in the Diaspora.

There is no reason why CBS FM does not have a Twitter page and FaceBook Account. There is no reason why CBS FM does not at least post news updates and Podcasts on Free hosting sites such as YouTube etc, most of these services are free and with the money that CBS FM generates, they can employ a Techie to oversee such assets.

Even if CBS FM was shut down, Mr. Museveni cannot shut down the Internet…that is way beyond his “intellectual” and physical capabilities of the gun…President Museveni cannot arrest the Internet…

I hope CBS FM learns from this lesson wakes up. If Buganda and Mengo wants to win the Media War between them and Mr. Museveni, then they must embrace Media Technology and stop relaying on Analog FM Broadcasts alone as the way forward.

Yet still even tech savvy Media Outlets like NTV and WBS TV still failed greatly at keeping the world informed at what was happening in Uganda, NTV used to post news updates on YouTube but stopped. The NTV website is never updated and since they work hand in hand with Monitor Newspaper, then they had better aggregate news on their site. Not even NTV has a Twitter account.

WBS TV tries to aggregate Ugandan news on their website but often the site is never updated and one finds news that is three month old and no new information. The goal of the Media should be to report news and hold African despotic leaders to account using today’s Technology and becoming creative at it. Simply crying foul that Museveni has shut down Radio Stations is not enough.

It is high time that Uganda’s Media fully embraces Technology, get reporters Blackberries, iPhones, and Google Phones and perhaps Mr. Museveni will think twice before brutalizing, shooting, murdering, and killing his own citizens who freely exercise their right to demonstrate unarmed next time.

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Glo One Submarine Cable Debuts in Lagos
September 8, 2009 in Broadband, Mobile and Telecoms
Globacom cable reaches Lagos
The $800 million Glo 1 undersea cable has landed in Lagos. The landing of the submarine cable in Lagos makes Globacom the first single operator to successfully link submarine cable from the United Kingdom to Nigeria, a project that is designed to crash telecom prices and make bandwidth abundantly available.
This event is historical because it is the 1st time that a single company has embarked on such a projoct on the continent. The trend in the global telecommunication industry is for a consortium of companies or even nations to combine resources to build submarine cables as was the case with the SAT submarine 3 cable which was built by a consortium of 36 countries.
With the successful landing of the submarine cable in Lagos, Globacom says it will likely commence commercial operation after the commercial launch in 6 weeks time.

Kato Mivule

Nigeria decides not to be left behind in the race to connect Africa to the Fiber Optic Super Infor Highway… If serious and avoids the sins of corruption, Nigeria could well position herself as ICT Powerhouse in West Africa…however, this is yet to be seen. It seems that Africa is being flooded with investiment in IT but will Africans take advantage of the ICT Infrustructure? The Articles Below give another picture…

Globacom Cable Reaches Lagos IT News Africa | September 8, 2009

The $800 million Glo 1 undersea cable has landed in Lagos. The landing of the submarine cable in Lagos makes Globacom the first single operator to successfully link submarine cable from the United Kingdom to Nigeria, a project that is designed to crash telecom prices and make bandwidth abundantly available.Fiber Optic Cable at Seashore | Image Scource: IT News Africa

This event is historical because it is the 1st time that a single company has embarked on such a projoct on the continent. The trend in the global telecommunication industry is for a consortium of companies or even nations to combine resources to build submarine cables as was the case with the SAT submarine 3 cable which was built by a consortium of 36 countries.

With the successful landing of the submarine cable in Lagos, Globacom says it will likely commence commercial operation after the commercial launch in 6 weeks time.

Nairobi — East Africa may have received the first undersea fiber optic cable a month ago but it is emerging there is no requisite infrastructure to enable Seacom go deeper into the hinterland.
The EastAfrican has established that in Kenya and Tanzania — on whose coastlines the cable was simultaneously switched on in Mombasa and Dar es Salaam by Presidents Mwai Kibaki and Jakaya Kikwete respectively — faster Internet connectivity still remains out of reach while landlocked neighbours relying on the two countries for connections could even take longer to experience broadband connectivity.
According to Africa Online, one of the ICT firms linking consumers to the fibre-optic cable, Kenya, the region’s natural highway, has only one terrestrial link to the undersea cable — the one operated by Kenya Data Network (KDN) — which is already overwhelmed by traffic, leading to uneven connection speeds.
Africa Online general manager in Kenya, Ken Munyi, said that due to high traffic, the country requires at least three links so that in case one jams, providers can switch to the next seamlessly.
Until that happens, the providers may have to invest in back-up satellite capacity and pass additional costs to users”, he said.
Africa Online has operations in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Last week, The EastAfrican talked to its regional managers, who were in Nairobi for a company conference, about why the landing of the fabled fibre optic cable whose arrival is yet to make a difference in either pricing or speed.
Mr Munyi said the experience of his firm had brought into focus the unpreparedness of the region to embrace the technology, which was launched with so much hype that consumers had come to expect not only faster telecommunications but cheaper too. Unfortunately, the consumers did not realise that there is more to the cable than landing in Mombasa.
“Development of in-country telecommunication infrastructure, local content, growth and appetite for services other than browsing and e-mail, and regulation aimed at enforcing competition and ensuring the quality of service are all critical if the region is to realise the effect of this important development,” Mr Munyi said.
He said the existing IT security systems need to be alert to the dangers inherent in the new broadband era.
“It is perhaps time we qualified the benefits to the different players and articulated what is achievable now and what will have to wait till the necessary infrastructure is in place,” he said.
Critical here is last-mile connectivity — the link between the user and service provider. Applying the analogy of “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” it becomes apparent that despite connecting to the fibre at the landing point, the other components of the network are weak, unreliable and insufficiently supported.
“The international cable system, national cable system and last-mile link must all be optimised to deliver quality services,” Mr Munyi said.In Tanzania, said Africa Online manager Stanley Ayittah, despite the switching on of the cable, things are yet to move since the in-country infrastructure — the metro-ethernet — is not ready.
Telekom Tanzania, which undertook the responsibility of delivering the technology to users, is yet to switch the metro-ethernet and has not made public when it will do so. But testing is said to be going on.
Mr Munyi, however, said that Kenya is way ahead of its neighbours — already Internet speeds have picked up. He added that once the other two terrestrial links come on board, things would improve.
These links are expected from Orange and Jamii Telcom. While Orange is reported to have its infrastructure ready for the link, it is waiting for The East African Marine System (Teams) cable, in which it is a shareholder.
The Teams cable is expected to land in November, when both Jamii and Orange will switch on their links, giving providers and users the much-anticipated increase in bandwidth and speed.
The Africa Online managers also said that regulators have to adjust frequency policies to enable wireless networks to carry more capacity. Limiting frequencies to 15MHz will result in networks that cannot be optimally fine-tuned to meet market demand.
By limiting the frequencies, a Wimax network that is manufactured to support throughputs of 80+mbps (megabits per second) is limited to, say, 20mbps.
In the short-term, limited satellite bandwidth will be retained for redundancy in case of fibre-optic cable failure.
The region, Mr Ayitta added, is in its infancy with regards to the access to the fibre and it is too early to compare it with West and Southern Africa, that were hooked up five to six years ago.
Throughout the region, Africa Online’s regional managers say, most of the investment in last-mile connectivity is concentrated in the large urban areas, where majority of the current users reside.
The GSM players and fixed national operators have attempted to expand data services to rural areas and though these services may not be the same in all areas, they are a step in the right direction. Initiatives such as “ICT Villages” will also play a role in taking the services to the masses.
But unless there is direct government investment in opening up such villages, investments in different areas will remain driven by market forces.
Governments need to embrace ICT as part of the regional development agenda, as an enabler of policy implementation in all sectors — agriculture, security, health, public services, and education.
Players in the region also need to work hard at local content generation to stimulate demand for connectivity.

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