Rwanda issues new guidelines for operators to provide international redundancy


The Rwandan government has made it mandatory with immediate effect for telecom operators and internet service providers to provide seamless redundancy and diversity of internet bandwidth to guarantee service.

The move will allow automatic sharing of bandwidth between operators at pre-negotiated and determined prices to avoid service interruptions in case of any breakdown.

The industry regulator - Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), will in the next few days institute a settlement system for allowing inter operator bandwith backup and seamless routing of bandwidth once any operator's available bandwidth reduces to a predetermined threshold.

However, the move is set to rescue MTN Rwanda, the country’s biggest telecom company by subscriber base which has been struggling to offer bandwidth to full capacity due to the current East African Submarine System (EASSY) cable disruptions detected between Djibouti and Port Sudan, which carries the majority of its internet traffic (80 percent ).

The telecoms giant has approximately 2.9 million subscribers with network coverage of over 90 per cent, having pioneered the mobile market in Rwanda.

Under the new guidelines, any affected operator will be required to maintain a certain level of bandwidth availability by tapping into available bandwidth of other operators.

“The directive has already been communicated by the regulator to all telecoms operators and internet services providers and will take immediate effect.

All operators will be required to provide a guaranteed level of service to their client by accessing the pool bandwidth in the event of major catastrophes,” said Dr Ignace Gatare, the Rwandan Minister in charge of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) in a press statement released on Friday.

He added that the decision in support of international bandwidth aggregation was taken in order to mitigate the social and economic impact of poor bandwidth availability.

“It also ensures efficient management of Rwanda internet resources. The regulator will ensure that there is sufficient bandwidth in the country to meet our national requirements,” Dr Gatare said.

Currently, Rwanda has two telecoms companies, MTN and Tigo Rwanda, owned by Luxemburg based Millicom International Cellular. Bharti Airtel is expected to officially launch on the market this year, with an investment pledge of over $100 million in the next three years.