Tanzania’s Fibre Backbone is set for Completion this year

Internet

Construction of the national information communication technology broadband backbone is expected to be completed this December, according to a senior government official. The move brings the hope of increased broadband uptake and reduced Internet tariffs in the Tanzanian hinterland and beyond.

The backbone, which is the terrestrial continuation of the fibre optic submarine cables that landed in the Dar es Salaam coast last year has already contributed to a significant drop in Internet capacity charges. The NICTBB project was embarked on in 2008 and is expected to cost about Sh251 billion when it is completed at the end of this year.

"The construction of the backbone was divided in two phases to cover the whole country. Phase I became operational in July 2010 and covers the northern ring of the network with ten Points of Presence (POP) which include Dar es Salaam, Morogoro,Singida, Iringa, Babati, Arusha, Namanga, Moshi and Tanga," Gilder Kibola, Head of the National ICT Broadband Backbone told The Citizen in an interview recently in Dar es Salaam.

"Phase II is expected to be completed by December 2011 with operational PoPs at Lindi, Mtwara, Tunduru, Songea, Sumbawanga, Tabora, Kigoma, Manyovu," she added. The project is funded by a $170 million soft loan from China and Sh30 billion from government sources.

The government intends to turn the country into the regional ICT hub, according to Ms Kibola. Since phase I of the backbone became operational last July four major locally licensed cellular and data operators were subscribed to NICTBB services, with other two companies from landlocked countries of Malawi and Zambia getting access to NICTBB through licensed local operators.

According to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority, the broadband subscriptions stood at four million by the end of last year.