How far can you travel in Uganda and stay connected to your mobile network? The nostalgia for the race to cover the whole Uganda started way back in 1998 with Celtel Uganda and MTN followed but has now narrowed down. Seventeen years down the road, with several mobile phone operators, we are able traverse most of the corners of Uganda and still remain connected with our friends and families on most major networks.
It all starts from wanting to use a voice or data service, or may be you are soon traveling to Uganda or perhaps you could be considering to switching from one mobile carrier to another. You will need to know the extent of coverage for the service provider you select. For sure this must be one of the basic considerations when choosing the right mobile network for you as it will be the foundation of selecting which mobile service you desire. It could range from voice to data services or even value added service like mobile money or SMS. We bring you the coverage maps for all voice and data mobile networks in Uganda .
The oldest mobile phone network indeed doesn’t disappoint when it comes to coverage, in fact it is one of the most reliable networks when it comes to upcountry GSM/2G coverage. After the Warid acquisition, Airtel was able to expand further in areas that Warid had covered before the merger. The big red network currently has over 300 3G base stations according to their website which cover most areas in Kampala, plus up country major towns like Makasa, Mbarara, Kitgum, Arua, Gulu, Kumi, Mbale, Busia to mention but a few (see map below).
It would be a shame if Uganda’s telecom giant doesn’t have superior coverage, and indeed MTN Uganda doesn’t let you down. Covering what seems to be over 70% of the geographical population, MTN’s 10 million subscribers seem to be in for a treat. With all mobile technologies known to humans (4G, 3G, 2G, WimAX, CDMA), MTN boasts of 160,000 shops, MTN Mobile Money and World-class Internet everywhere they go. It also has a wider 3G coverage than Airtel, but none has reached Orange/Africell’s 3G coverage. MTN clearly leads when it comes to 2G coverage. Their 4G-LTE network is limited to some parts of Kampala.
AFRICELL/ ORANGE UGANDA
Orange Uganda now turned Africell, cannot definitely compete with MTN and Airtel when it comes to 2G coverage, but what they miss to cover in 2G technology they make up for it in 3G. Data being the company’s cash cow, Orange invested heavily in 3G technology leading the industry. They single- handedly managed to push the competition to the limits and squeeze out data speeds of up to 42 Mbps on the 3G standard. In fact, they also have the widest 4G– LTE coverage, which is not only in Kampala but also in Gulu, Jinja and Entebbe. On the 2G side, they are the only major carrier that have not explored the Karamoja region. For purposes for transparency it should be mentioned that all K2 Telecom customers ride on the Africell Network so the coverage is the same.
This is what I would call an ‘on the down-low’ network. With no public coverage map to share on their website, it is a hit a miss getting to know the actual extent of their mobile network coverage. UTL has both 2G and 3G networks with an LTE network coming soon. They claim to cover most parts of Uganda with voice, data and SMS services. Again, for purposes for transparency it should be mentioned that all Smart Telecom and Vodafone Uganda’s customers also enjoy UTL’s 2G and 3G coverage out of Kampala since they are both Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) with national roaming arrangements with Uganda Telecom.
SMILE COMMUNICATIONS UGANDA
Smile Communications Uganda is a 4G-LTE high-speed data network provider, currently covering most parts of a Kampala, Entebbe and Mukono including the respective highways. With rumors of supporting voice (VoIP) in the near future, (not be confused with VoLTE also known as Voice over LTE) services they badly need to expand their coverage to match up to the competition. Unlike its 4G contenders like Vodafone Uganda, we have not yet seen Smile strike national roaming deals with existing major telcos.
[section label=”VODAFONE UGANDA”] Vodafone, once Afrimax launched at the end of last year and boasts of a 4G LTE network with coverage in Kampala and Entebbe and are in the process of expansion. As mentioned earlier, Vodafone Uganda rides on the UTL network for both 2G and 3G coverage nationwide.
OTHER SERVICE PROVIDERS
Tangrine offers CDMA data services with up to 3Mbps speeds, and cover the following areas in Kampala and Entebbe :Namirembe, Mengo area, Nateete, Nankulabye, Katwe, Nsambya, Naguru,Wandegeya, Bukoto, Kamwokya, Ntinda, Kololo area, Nakasero, Buziga, Munyonyo, Kabalagala, Kawuku, Bbunga, Konge, Zana, Bweyogerere, Lubowa, Bwaise, Kissasi, Luzira, Kampala CBD and its environs – Bombo road, Kampala road, Kibuli, Kibuye, Entebbe road and its environs.
With no coverage map on their website, Smart Telecom is still new in the game, offering 2G and 3G mobile voice and data services in Kampala and Entebbe. They also also have national roaming agreements with UTL so where they lack in coverage, UTL compensates.
FORIS TELECOM/ IN CONNECT:
This is a WiMAX data service provider that operates in Kampala with hotspots as indicated on the map below.
NOTE: -All coverage maps are based on simulations by Network providers -All maps sourced from respective service providers websites