Tanzania bandwidth costs down ‘thousands of percent’
INTERNET| Aug. 7, 2012, 3:49 p.m.
The arrival of new submarine telecommunications cables starting in 2009, paired with government investment in the national telecommunications backbone, has spurred a revolution in Tanzania that has seen the cost of Internet connectivity drop to as little as 15 US cents a day on a prepaid service.
This represents an effective drop of thousands of percent in the cost of internet bandwidth in the country over the past three to four years, says Anna Kahama-Rupia, managing director of Seacom Tanzania.
She says that before 2009, the USD5,000 to USD10,000 cost for dedicated fixed-line meant that only larger businesses could afford access to broadband connectivity. Internet access for an ordinary private citizen was almost unheard of.
Today, many Tanzanians are paying as little as USD15 a month to enjoy high-speed mobile access to the Internet from their cellphones, including the cost voice calls. This has had an enormous transformative effect on education, entrepreneurship and social life in the country, adds Kahama-Rupia.
Kahama-Rupia says that the change in Tanzania’s telecommunications landscape can be attributed to two major factors: the arrival of new submarine cables in the country, starting with SEACOM in 2009, and a massive effort led by the government to rollout 10,000km of national backbone crisscrossing Tanzania up to the eight countries on its borders.
Before the arrival of Seacom, there was just 300 Mbps of international bandwidth coming into Tanzania for the country’s 50 million people. Today, there is around 10G, a factor that has helped to bring connectivity costs down dramatically.
The government’s USD200 million investment in the national backbone means that this international connectivity reaches into towns and cities right across the country, and even brings it to the doorsteps of Tanzania’s landlocked neighbours. As a result, Tanzania is becoming a major technology and communications hub for the entire region.
Just recently, the state-owned Tanzania Telecommunication Company was awarded a USD6.7m deal to supply 1,244 Mbps of internet bandwidth into Rwanda, a transaction with benefits for both countries. Tanzania is growing its own economy while helping other countries to drive down their communications costs.
Cheaper broadband is also benefiting Tanzania’s education sector, says Kahama-Rupia. The University of Dar Es Salaam was paying USD10,000 a month for 13Mbps of slow satellite connectivity.
Now, Seacom has linked it to the Internet for a fraction of the price and with enough bandwidth to support richer Web apps than the university could before.
More Internet bandwidth also means that there are opportunities to reach young people in remote areas that are underserviced by schools and teachers with e-learning services at an affordable cost.
Government has embraced telecommunications as part of a wider strategy to deliver electronic services including education, healthcare, and e-government to the people. It plans to do so through telecentres spread throughout the country, says Kahama-Rupia.
There is a flurry of innovation underway in Tanzania’s telecommunications market, thanks to lighter regulation of the market and the new national and international cables. Mobile networks have turned themselves into major data players, innovating with services such as voice-over-IP, video messaging and video calling.
African telecommunications operator Smile Telecom recently launched mobile broadband services including live video chat and TV streaming following its deployment of the first commercial LTE 800 Mhz network in Africa.
The impact on Tanzanian consumers and businesses has been remarkable. Before mid-2009, Internet cafes with high access costs were the only viable way for SMEs and ordinary consumers to use the Web, and even corporates and educational institutions had to strictly ration bandwidth, says Kahama-Rupia.
Now, SMEs are trading on the Web, relying on instant messaging, and even using multimedia Web applications for the first time. Many large multinationals are looking at investing in the country for the first time, now that a sound communications backbone is in place. For consumers, social media, mobile banking and other applications are now a part of their everyday lives.
“The opportunities this has created – economic and otherwise – are enormous. There is reason to believe that we are just getting started. With only an estimated 2.5% of the population having access to the Internet, there is plenty of scope for growth," Kahama-Rupia says.
MORE INTERNET NEWS
Satellite as key element for the Financial Services IndustrySatellite networks provide an effective solution to reduce cost, increase network availability and mitigate business risks, says Q-KON. Read More
iWayAfrica re-launches Ka-band service with exclusive no equipment contractsDandemutande Investments (Private) Limited, a licensed Internet Access Provider operating the AfricaOnline, iWayAfrica, Utande and uMAX brands in Zimbabwe, has announced the re-launch of its iWayAfrica Ka-band VSAT service with a new nationwide campaign targeting households and businesses. Read More
Terragon Group releases Digital Insights on the Nigerian banksTerragon Group has released its Research Report which highlights the use of digital media by Nigerian banks and what impact these activities have on their overall business. Read More
BOFINET concludes Sekoma-Tsabong optic fibre projectBotswana Fibre Networks has successfully concluded its 360km Sekoma-Tsabong route optical fibre project. Read More
MainOne extends cable to CamerounMainOne has announced the extension of its world-class submarine fiber optic cable network from its Cable Landing Station in Lagos, Nigeria to Kribi, Cameroun. Read More
PayPal, MallforAfrica join forces to give Kenyan shoppers more online payment optionsMallforAfrica, a global e-commerce company that enables African consumers access to over 8.5 billion items, is teaming up with PayPal, one of the world’s most-loved ways to pay and get paid, through internet and mobile, to make online shopping from key markets outside of Kenya as easy as ... Read More
Alan Knott-Craig Jr to launch new ventureFormer Mxit CEO Alan Knott-Craig Jr has announced the imminent commercial launch of HeroTel, a new venture seeking to consolidate Wireless Internet providers (WISPs). Read More
Click n Compare takes off AfricaCNC Group, parent company of the Click n Compare comparison website, is expanding its African footprint. Read More
Surfline Communications – one year of leading 4G LTE revolution in GhanaGhana’s leading 4G LTE network provider, Surfline Communications, is celebrating its first anniversary in grand style. Read More
MTN Business announces a partnership with Microsoft to offer a cloud solutionMTN Business has announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to provide a pan-African cloud platform that offers customers a true hybrid cloud solution serviced from MTN’s data centres. Read More
FEATURED STORYYoung innovators shine during pitch sessions
Botswana saw an array of upcoming tech wizards selling their ideas during the Vendors’ Day pitch sessions this week.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHHigh tech homes: Just press play
High tech, digital homes where everything is automated and connected aren’t the stuff of science fiction any longer, says BNC Technology.