“Uninterrupted high speed connectivity” In Rwanda? Where?

rwandatel adsl wires low

Rwandatel’s CEO, Patrick Kariningufu, talks to The New Times about the increase in Internet speeds expected throughout Rwanda following the signing of a partnership deal with fibre-optic provider SEACOM. However, the article has me more than a little confused. Take this line,

A month ago, Rwandatel signed a partnership deal with SEACOM and its sister company in Kampala called Uganda Telecom to have SEACOM’s connection. This meant that Rwandatel’s 2G, 3G and ADSL customers CAN NOW access uninterrupted high speed connectivity with bandwidth provided by SEACOM. link

NOW? No we CAN’T. I pay Rwf75,000 per month and Internet speed is up, down, in, out, around, across… sometimes crawling to a complete stop. It is noticeably faster in the morning, although very up and down, it crawls in the afternoon and often stutters to a halt in the evening – at least during this unscientific combination of keyboard bashing and head banging against wall moments these past few weeks.

Kariningufu also explained that after the landing of the SEACOM fibre optic cable in Mombasa, Rwandatel immediately went in to negotiations with SEACOM and today they have the internet users have started enjoying the super fast internet.

Which Internet users? Not here I haven’t…

Kariningufu also explained that Internet prices will not immediately go down but they are expecting them to go down early next year… Rwandatel has been paying $2,000 (Rwf1.3 million) for every Mbps while using the satellite but now they are buying it at $200 (Rwf112,950) for the same amount of bandwidth.

So much for Internet-for-all at an affordable price as soon as the SEACOM cable came home. When is “early next year” and how much will prices come down? Even if Rwandatel halve my bill (which I very much doubt) I’ll still be paying more than I did in France. But, let’s wait shall we. Until early next year. Or maybe, not until Rwandatel pay MTN the US$3.6 million they reportedly owe their main competitor in the mobile phone market?

“Business will drastically grow in Rwanda and the region as a whole, connecting to SEACOM means we are connected directly to the world, e.g. now it just takes 40 milliseconds to connect to Kenya and 300 milliseconds to connect to the USA,” Kariningufu explained.

Internet users can now expect near-instant e-mail downloads, streaming of real-time multimedia content and quick access of web-based services to be part of their day to day lives.

Again, all a little confusing. When can I “now expect” all this. It’s not happening now, so I should just keep expecting a little while longer, or what? I’m sure we’re not talking Terracom all over again, but let’s be honest about what we have, here today, right now. As the BBC noted when they were in town just last week,

When BBC News visited the bus in Kamonyi district, an area just 30 minutes’ drive from Kigali but without any mains electricity, the connection was so erratic that the young people using the facility were unable even to sign up for their first e-mail account. link

Picture taken from the Kigali Wire on Flickr

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