Zoom Wireless takes cheaper high speed internet to northern Uganda

By Omondi Julius Odera, Kampala, Uganda

Internet users in Gulu are enjoying lower internet costs after Zoom Wireless, a part of SINFA Uganda LTD, began offering a range of corporate and small business and residential grade fixed wireless services in Gulu, Uganda, within weeks of partnering with Volo.

The initiative success is a result of use of the expertise and software integration of Volo; a new start-up built that enables ISPs and telecom providers in emerging markets to design and deploy fixed wireless broadband services quickly and profitably. Backed by Volo’s expert design and cloud-based software integration, Northern Uganda’s newest Internet Service Provider (ISP), is now delivering the most affordable high-speed Internet access to businesses and residences in the region.

Leveraging on this, the new ISP Zoom Wireless uses Volo’s software integration and expert network design to deliver affordable high-speed services to business and residences in Gulu. With Volo’s engagement, the new ISP has designed and deployed a carrier-grade last mile WiFi network. This network is fiber-backed and integrated with the latest cloud-based management software, enabling Zoom Wireless to deploy it with 10 times less capital and operating cost than traditional LTE networks.

“Volo’s experts got us up and running from greenfield to market in under 12 weeks. That would have been impossible without them,” said Joseph Walusimbi, General Manager of SINFA Uganda LTD and Zoom Wireless. “Now we have the systems to manage the network and the skills to deploy and expand it. We’ve already exceeded our goals for time to market and customer response to our first of a kind affordable fixed wireless service has been rapid.”

Currently, Zoom Wireless is offering Internet services for corporate customers with speeds from 1-9 Mbps and small business or residential options of 512 kbps, 1 Mbps or 3 Mbps at approximately 50percent of the rates of their competitors and no usage caps. Packages of custom-managed WiFi services are also available.

While these speeds may seem low in the context of developed world economies, the ability for ISPs or telecom providers to offer these services at affordable prices in emerging and frontier markets like Northern Uganda is transformative. Faster, more reliable access to the Internet is driving real productivity and employment.

This transformation was seen immediately at SINFA Uganda LTD’s Microwork division, where employees perform digital business process outsourcing that is 100percent reliant on Internet access to download and upload data. Connected to the Zoom Wireless network in July as an early customer trial, the amount of microwork completed in one month was double their typical output. This boom in productivity meant they were able to not only perform more work but also employ more workers, increasing both revenue and job opportunities.

“With these speeds, the future of the cloud is here. Businesses and consumers can confidently access cloud-based productivity tools that fuel economic growth that include Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Quickbooks Online and YouTube,” said Mark Summer, CEO and co-founder of Volo. “As Volo’s first customer, Zoom Wireless proves the need for and impact of Volo’s services. Building on the success of Zoom Wireless, Volo is now ready to make our cloud-based ISP automation platform available in limited release and work with providers in Africa to demonstrate the speed and profitability that can be achieved with our system and expertise.”

According to Peter Brooks from Volo, the firm plans to serve ISPs in 60 emerging markets that are on the precipice of massive growth in data usage, yet lack critical last-mile infrastructure outside the capital cities. 

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