Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) through the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF) has launched a Wi-Fi hotspot project covering five border posts across the country.
The project, to be implemented by Blue Crane Communications Limited, an Internet Service Provider, will provide broadband services at the five border posts of Mutukula (Kyotera); Vurra (Arua); Malaba (Tororo); Elegu (Amuru); Bunagana (Kisoro).
Launching the project at the UCC head office on Wednesday, UCC Ag. Executive Director Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, who was flanked by the Director RCDF Nyombi Thembo, said the project aims to provide connectivity in transit areas to facilitate business and support the fight against COVID-19.
Mr George Waigumbulizi, a Director at Blue Crane, said his company would deliver a bandwidth capacity of 5Mbps per user at the selected sites.
Being in line with the RCDF Phase III Guidelines that prioritise broadband connectivity and access, the Wi-Fi hotspot project will enable the public in the beneficiary areas to access free and reliable internet connectivity.
This intervention is also informed by the National Broadband Policy, which seeks to promote broadband coverage across the country. The policy defines broadband for Uganda as robust connectivity that is affordable, reliable and delivers a minimum of 5Mbps to the user for applications, content and services.
In targeting border towns, UCC/RCDF recognised that people in transit areas have unique communication needs that can be addressed through access to public Wi-Fi hotspots as long as they own a Wi-Fi capable device. Wi-Fi in such locations is even more suitable and convenient because it doesn’t require a SIM card or existence of a subscription relationship with a service provider.
Through this project, the Commission will also be able to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 by addressing the communication needs of people transiting through the said border posts, some of which have been identified by the Ministry of Health as hotspots in the fight against the pandemic.
By providing free broadband service, it is believed that the experience will spur market demand among the local user population, and eventually drive uptake of broadband services in these areas.
The project also aims to increase the number of ICT devices such as computers and smartphones in the area, as well as encourage digital literacy, thereby reducing the digital divide.
Besides improved social services, the selected areas are expected to experience the ease of doing business through e-commerce and e-government services, thus contributing to social-economic transformation.