We are just approaching the pinnacle of internet broadband penetration in Uganda, with several mobile networks and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) now fully invested in 3G, WiMAX and 4G LTE technologies to bring internet to the inhabitants of the pearl of Africa. But at the end of the day an average Ugandan just wants affordable and reliable internet services. As we still wait for the prognostication of Google Fiber aka Project Link that saw many ISPs jump onto the bandwagon in order to cut down on their costs of laying fiber and to offer high-speed data at a lower cost– but we still wait for this to happen. There is a new Wireless Broadband Internet Solution in Gulu and it could be worth a try.
“They use the same unlicensed spectrum used by your Microwave oven”
It’s now over six weeks and the people in Gulu have been enjoying a different kind of internet experience from a new entrant called Zoom Wireless which is part of SINFA Uganda Ltd. Their services are powered by Volo broadband platform, which is basically a cloud-based service that brings an affordable way of delivering high-speed broadband Internet to the people of Gulu. The company has basically deployed a fixed WiFi broadband mesh network with a fiber backbone to offer low-cost internet and doesn’t need any regulator spectrum assignment as they are using an unlicensed ISM Band at 2.4GHz as the last mile. This is the same spectrum used in our microwaves at home and Bluetooth in our phones. Recently, MTN deployed WiFi Hotspots around Kampala something similar to what Zoom Wireless has deployed in Gulu and there was a lot of mixed reactions and reviews about MTN’s WiFi network.
Whatever internet technology or service you bring in Uganda; it better be price sensitive depending on where you are going to deploy it. Zoom Wireless offers unlimited speeds of up to 1 mbps and on top of that the ability to access cloud-based business productivity tools such as Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, Quickbooks Online and YouTube at prices and speeds that mobile companies can’t offer. Or can they?
Do the Math
Lets drill down and see if you could still use their services if they were rolled out in Kampala as is. With Zoom Wireless, you will pay about UGX 150,000 ($ 58) for 1mbps unlimited speed for a month on WiFi. To put this in perspective. Smile offers a package of UGX 145,000 ($55) for 10GB for 60 days on their 4G LTE. See the problem there? The bundle is capped to 10GB data. Similarly MTN and Orange both offer a 10GB bundle at UGX 125,000 ($ 48) for a month across all their wireless internet technologies (2G/3G and 4G LTE). The only other carrier with unlimited data bundle is Orange at 512kbps at UGX 299,000 ($ 114).
If Zoom wireless were to deploy a similar wireless network in Kampala with the same prices, would you stay loyal to your current ISP? As a high data user, all I keep asking myself is: Why does this Gulu exclusive wireless broadband Internet solution sound Drool Worthy?