Uganda Telecom (UTL) completed the implementation of an Internet protocol-based next-generation network (NGN) last week, says Michael Magambo, project development manager for UTL.

He says the project cost UTL $5 million and roll-out was started in late 2005, with the view to increasing telecom operator revenues in the country.

“The transition from a traditional circuit switch network to a converged IP-based network was necessary to improve transmission of data, as well as operational efficiencies,” notes Magambo, explaining that the outdated infrastructure caused the telecoms operator to run at a loss.

“We have saved over $240 000 on remote switch replacements using access gateways as opposed to traditional remote switches.”

The technology offers multiple services on a single broadband network connection, says Peter Retief, regional director for Business Connexion Africa, the company that implemented the network.

“The technology will be able to support the usual telecommunication service to the customer, as well as data and video formats over the same network from almost any location.”

If Uganda's NGN system is to become truly cost effective however, Retief explains, other communication service providers have to implement the technology to allow convergence and network interoperability to take place. He states that MTN Uganda is in the process of providing the same service.

UTL deployed an IP digital subscriber line access multiplexer infrastructure last year, Magambo adds, to accommodate the advanced NGN broadband services in various towns in Uganda, as well as an overlay broadband wireless network to cover areas which have no ADSL. “The availability of high bandwidth, with an efficient network to deliver differentiated services, allows for a whole host of new applications previously too costly for the market.”