The Ministry of ICT has said it is pursuing the use of satellite technology to compliment optical fiber in an effort to boost Internet connectivity.
Speaking at a media briefing in Kampala at the weekend, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, the ICT minister, said the ministry was discussing with Cabinet to adopt a hybrid system that will enable extension of connectivity in hard-to-reach areas.
“We will have the fiber laid up to a certain point. There are places where you cannot put the fiber. It would be expensive especially in geographically challenging areas. When you have fiber, satellite and other terrestrial microwave, you will have full connectivity,” he said.
Satellites as opposed to optical fiber serve wireless transmissions which will be housed at MTN’s network facility in Mbuya, Kampala.
Mr Tumwebaze said this at the launch of a pilot scheme that seeks to advance 3G wireless internet to rural areas. The scheme, which is being piloted in Ntoroko and Rubanda districts, seeks to extend high speed Internet to rural areas.
Mr Tumwebaze said the scheme will be instrumental in accelerating the 2020 Broadband Strategy, which seeks to achieve 100 per cent connectivity across Uganda.
However, he said, it will also see affordable Internet extended to rural areas, which will in the long run improve innovation.
Rural Internet connectivity has been a challenge due to vandalism of optical fibres laid by telecoms and broadband service providers.
Mr Wim Van Helleputte, the MTN chief executive officer, said satellite connectivity will eliminate such challenges, which has seen the telecom spend Shs50m every month on maintenance and repair of its 6,000km network cable.
Mr Patrick Masambu, the International Telecommunications Satelite Organisation director general, said UCC should objectively regulate Internet services to help Uganda advance in the communications sector.