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In March 2014, we reported how Google would be investing in an Internet WiFi network and it would be partnering with local ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to roll-out over 300 Wi-Fi hotspots around Kampala. A year down the road, it seems the rumors have now matured, as Google and Roke Telkom Uganda are working on deploying WiFi hotspots in Kampala. Thanks to Google’s Project Link, the search giant has connected ISPs and telecom companies with Optic Fiber in the city to deliver high-speed internet to their clients.
Wifi networks on a large scale are not new in Uganda, MTN already has an existing WiFi network (MTNHotSpot) in different parts of Kampala and according to our sources they are less functional than was originally planned. Before existing the market, in 2012 Orange Uganda had a small pilot WiFi project around Kisementi Area, but the company later abandoned the project since it wasn’t making any business sense including several technical challenges. We wonder how this new venture will break through this WiFi failure bubble in Uganda since rolling out of outdoor WiFi mesh networks comes with several challenges cardinal of which is degraded signal penetration indoors among others.
Just like Bluetooth, WiFi uses the industrial scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands (2.4 and 5 GHz). Since UCC follows international regulatory guidelines, it recommends ISPs not exceed 4 watts (36dBm) when broadcasting. This power is not sufficient for indoor signal penetration thus ISPs would have to roll-out several hotspots in-order to cover a specific area.
“You will buy your data bundle from Roke Telkom Uganda and not from Google directly”
With the high penetration of data due to the boom of smartphones, tablets and other WiFi capable devices, this service comes as a savior from mobile data charges that Ugandans endure when they have to reach out to the connected world.
In this pilot project with Roke Telkom, Google is leasing their wide-spread fiber and the Roke is providing the wifi hotspots. Basically, you will buy your data bundle from Roke Telkom and not from Google directly. The Service Set Identifier (SSID) of the WiFi is named Free WiFi, which has lead many to believe that it will be free at launch. But we expect to know more when the project goes out of pilot mode.
Currently known as RokeSpot, Roke Telkom already has WiFi hotspots at some restaurants and bars around Kampala like Gattomato, Legends, Skylounge rooftop, Zone7, Mythos and Riders Lounge and charges UGX 100,000 for 10GB of data for a month. Kudos to Roke Telkom, we are sure Ugandans can’t wait to try the upcoming high-speed WiFi service once complete. Keep it at Techjaja for more on this development.