Warid and MTN Slash Internet Rates in Uganda
Warid Telecom and MTN Uganda have joined their competitors in the internet price war by cutting rates aimed at drawing more subscribers to their networks. Warid Telecom slashed its monthly internet charge for unlimited internet to Shs60,000 from Shs85,000 while its daily unlimited mobile internet service reduced to Shs4,000 from Shs5,000. Warid Telecom has as well reduced its annual mobile internet connection charge to Shs600,000 from Shs756,000 in an attempt to woo more mobile broadband subscribers to its network. However, the cost of the company's mobile modem through which their internet service is delivered has remained at shs150,000 compared to the industry's average of about Shs180,000. Mr Shine George, Warid’s head of products and services, told Daily Monitor in an interview "The reduction in rates is in line with our efforts to make it more convenient for Ugandans to have access to fast and affordable data services." MTN Uganda has also introduced new fixed line handsets with low costs internet bundles ranging between Shs9,500 and Shs28,500 for between 50 megabytes and 180 megabytes. The handset also comes with between 50 to 180 voice minutes that a customer can make use of once he or she has acquired one at Shs1,09,000. MTN and Warid's new internet offers closely follow reductions made by Zain and Uganda Telecom in the last two months. Among the top four telecoms, Zain has the cheapest mobile internet modem at Shs53,000, while Orange Uganda and Warid have the lowest monthly mobile internet service connections at Shs49,000 and Shs60,000 respectively. The low internet rates are expected to boost the number of internet users in Uganda from under three million, to a higher figure in the months ahead. However the quality of the service varies from one network to the other. Some service providers are offering very slow speed for costly packages. Although Uganda like the other East African states are now realising faster internet speeds due to the landing of undersea fibre optic cables, more complaints are being made about the reliability of the internet delivered. Mr Joseph Barungi, the general manager Africa Online Uganda, recently said internet reliability varies between 97 and 98 per cent instead of 100 per cent as demanded by customers. The poor reliability is attributed to East Africa poor national communication infrastructure and inconsistent in internet supply from bulk suppliers like Seacom.