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
How to Bypass Electronic Communication CensorshipCensorship poses a large and growing challenge to online freedom of expression around the world, says Kwami Ahiabenu, Executive Director of Penplusbytes. Read More
MTN launches a Young Graduate ProgrammeMTN Cameroon, leader of the telecommunications sector in Cameroon has announced the launch of its “MTN Young Graduate Programme’’. Read More
Vodacom trains 25 female secondary school students on IoTsVodacom Business Nigeria has trained twenty-five female students of Clemmy High School, Agodo-Egbe, Lagos, on Internet of Things (IoTs) as part of its support for the Girls in ICT programme. Read More
Africa, preparing to become an Always-On continentThere is significant potential for Africa to capitalise on the move to Always-On, says Veeam Software. Read More
Ericsson and MTN bring LTE experience to GhanaMTN Ghana has selected Ericsson to deploy its new LTE network in the Greater Accra region. Read More
SEACOM gathers momentum in SA business marketPan-African telecoms enabler SEACOM has announced that it has grown its South African base of channel partners servicing the business market to more than 65 companies of all sizes, up from 20 in October last year. Read More
MTN Business encourages transport and logistics industry to realise the impact of M2MIf embraced and implemented properly, M2M has numerous abilities to provide South African fleet managers with useful information regarding fuel usage, routing, and vehicle diagnostics, says MTN Business. Read More
Nigeria satellite resources to boost economic growthThe Management of NigComSat says Nigeria’s satellite resources are primed to help the nation in accelerating robust ICT infrastructure to boost economic development for the country. Read More
Win for Kenyan bloggers as court quashes controversial lawBloggers and social media users in Kenya have with sighed relief with quashing of a contentious section of law that State has been using to prosecute individuals who were mostly perceived to be critics of the establishment. Read More
FEATURED STORYGovernment should encourage youths in ICT early
Youths should be given more encouragement to develop their ICT skills, an 11-year-old app developer told Kokumo Goodie.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHIBM Opens First Cloud Data Centre in South Africa
IBM is opening a new IBM Cloud Data Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The new cloud center is the result of a close collaboration with Gijima and Vodacom and is designed to support cloud adoption and customer demand across the continent.
COMPANY NEWSEnhancing your security posture to fight new ransomware threats
Petya ransomware is proving to be one of the top cybersecurity stories of 2016.Arbor stops malware in its tracks
There is always a substantial amount of banking trojan activity taking place, however, recent developments have intensified the threat landscape.