An American consortium of four companies – Global IP, Boeing, SpaceX and Hughes Networks – has expressed interest in investing in Uganda in order to provide the country with fast and reliable Internet services through satellite technology.
This was disclosed during a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni and a delegation of officials from the consortium who called on him on Monday at State House, Entebbe.
The four companies have variously specialized mainly in aeronautics and space engineering sciences.
SpaceX of billionaire Elon Musk recently unveiled plans to deliver high-speed internet to the world using thousands of small satellites.
The company said this would “deliver broadband services directly to [people] anywhere in the United States or around the world” at speeds similar to some of the quickest ground-based internet connections.
Billions of people around the globe still lack internet access, so companies have been racing to find a better way to beam internet down from the sky.
The President and his guests discussed the mode under which the consortium will provide cheap but 100 percent efficient Internet services throughout the country.
State House says the consortium intends to co-invest with the Government of Uganda in satellite technology that is cheaper and reliable.
Mr Museveni and the delegation agreed on the necessity of a study on which the government will derive the necessary information regarding the costs and the way forward.
The delegation of investors, through their leader and Chief Executive Officer of Global IP Broadband Services, Mr. Braham Paourmand, said that satellite Internet technology is “not all out to compete with the existing fibre backbone system but rather to compliment it in making it possible to have internet in areas where the fibre backbone system cannot reach.”
Information, ICT and Communications Minister, Mr. Frank Tumwebaze said the country’s target is to have full connectivity by 2020.
The Ministry of Education and Sports and that of Health as well as other government entities, are some of the key areas expected to benefit greatly from the satellite technology service.
The MPs recently asked Nita-U boss James Saaka to shed more light on rolling out satellite as an access network in Uganda.
“It is true that satellite is significantly more costly than fibre,” says Saaka.
“However it has the unique advantage of being able to reach everywhere on the globe regardless of how remote the location may be.”
Most satellite Internet providers can provide multi megabit speeds which can be sometimes faster than terrestrial options and covers a wider area, transforming rural communities that lack even the remotest access to internet.
He says NITA-U is cognisant of the fact that telecommunication companies concentrate on providing infrastructure where it is commercially viable.
“Satellite offers an option to reach areas that telecom operators or the NBI is not yet reaching,” he said.