We recently drew your attention to Airtel partnering with Facebook and BCS to lay over 800 KM of fiber cables in Uganda and it turns out, a vast majority of those kilometers will be in Western Uganda. According to the Observer, Airtel Africa, the holding company for Airtel Uganda inked a deal with social giant, Facebook to see this project implemented in the Western Parts of Uganda.
While the previous report didn’t dictate the exact geographical area to be affected by this project, we have now confirmed that it is destined for Western Uganda. The project is said to connect at least 15 towns in the area and improve performance and assist in the upgrade of 3G and 4G services.
“In our experience, access to a reliable and robust telecom network helps in changing lives of the communities that we serve,” Airtel Africa managing director Raghunath Mandava said in a statement. “We are confident that this 770km fiber in western Uganda will not only lessen the digital divide but also provide opportunities to increase inter-country connectivity with South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Airtel has long touted its 4G services but they’ve never come into fruition. This new attempt can however give us a better picture about what is to come this year. Airtel’s 4G might actually to live though Kampala might have to wait a little longer given Western Uganda is what is tabled for now.
Ibrahima Ba, head of Middle East & Africa infrastructure product partnerships at Facebook, said: “As part of our mission to connect the world, Facebook is always exploring new ways to collaborate with operators. One of the ways we’re doing this is by applying learnings from scaling our global infrastructure to our work and investments in connectivity, and many operators have told us they need more capacity when it comes to shared backhaul infrastructure.”
As for Facebook, the increased internet penetration increases their underlying objective of connecting the world since internet access remains the biggest hurdle to see this through. Facebook for its part won’t be actually providing the last mile access, that will be left to Airtel but we anticipate it will fund the project to completion.