Facebook and Airtel have today announced new plans to lay fiber optic cables of over 800 kilometers in Uganda by the end of the year. With this infrastructure, the social media giant hopes will provide internet access for more than 3 million people.
Airtel will provide the last mile wireless network and is partnering with BCS to provide the actual internet service, and says the fiber will offer more support for “mobile operators’ base stations.” The company also says that it’s “open” to working with other network providers down the line.
Google has been leasing its Fiber network to other telecom companies in Kampala including Smile Telecom and Africell and other Internet service providers (ISPs) which have helped boast the speed of broadband access in Kampala through 4G-LTE technology the most recent launched Roke Telkom’s WiFi hotspost.
In July 2016, Airtel launched its 4G LTE network out of Kampala and were limited by several factors including equipment vendor issues and low bandwidth access in the city center. With this deal, the big red network will be ready to roll-out its 4G LTE network with enough bandwidth within Kampala and surrounding areas. According to Record, all three organizations are making some kind of financial commitment to the project, according to a person familiar with the deal, though it’s unclear who is paying for what.
We have seen Facebook at the forefront of making several attempts to make the next one billion people connected to the internet, in 2015, Facebook started building solar-powered drones known as Aquila to fly high overhead and beam internet to rural places down below.
But now seems to have come back more to reality and invested in more practical Fiber Optic cable. Recode also says that Facebook declined to share details on the cost of the fiber project in Uganda, and similar efforts on our end to reach out to Airtel Uganda were also fruitless.