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UCC Findings Show Airtel Has The Fastest Mobile Internet Speeds in Uganda

Customers pictured at one of Airtel service centers. Courtesy Photo

Customers pictured at one of Airtel service centers. Courtesy Photo

In July of 2019, the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) summoned Airtel to respond to allegations that its 4G data speeds are not what’s advertised following subscribers complaints claiming the speeds aren’t stable even in areas they expect to be.

The telco’s MD; Mr. VG Somasekhar came out to say the telco has the best 4G data speeds in Uganda. Hence, having the best mobile data speeds in Uganda compared to its competition; MTN and Africell.

UCC has released a report showing findings that Airtel indeed has the fastest mobile speeds in Uganda. This may be surprising as a number of mobile subscribers might have thought MTN takes lead.

The government regulatory body of communications, conducted benchmark measurements of mobile voice telephony and data services in 20 towns across Uganda assessing the Quality of Service received by consumers in the period September to November 2019.

The operators considered were; Airtel Uganda Limited, Africell Uganda Limited, MTN Uganda Limited, and Uganda Telecom Limited. And the towns the exercise were carried out from include; Arua, Entebbe, Fort Portal, Gulu, Hoima, Jinja, Kabale, Kampala, Kasese, Lira, Masaka, Masindi, Mbale, Mbarara, Mityana, Moroto, Mubende, Mukono, Soroti, and Tororo.

From the findings, Airtel had the best download throughput in 17 districts (see graphic below) with its maximum being 14Mpbs in Mityana and Soroti where MTN scored 2.5Mbps and 4Mbps respectively while Africell scored 3.8Mbs and 3.9Mbs respectively. MTN dominated in Masaka, Mukono and Entebbe towns.

The average download throughput measured for Airtel Uganda, Africell Uganda and MTN Uganda.

Africell and MTN had their best download throughput speeds in Moroto (roughly 5.8Mps) and Kasese (roughly 6.8Mps) respectively. In the same towns respectively Airtel achieved speeds of 13.Mps and 11.8Mps — twice better than its competition.

Airtel and Africell had drop speeds in Kabala while MTN drop speeds were in Arua and Gulu.

UCC noted a number of factors influencing the quality of network, among which include; congestion, interference, user-end devices, and communications network performance.

If the report is not biased, MTN ought to work on their 4G network considering that the telecommunication plans to roll-out 5G in the next two-three years.

The telco early this month, showcased the first live 5G network demonstration in an event presided over by Prime Minister; Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, UCC ED; Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi, Chairman B.O.D; Charles Mbire, among other delegates.

Rugunda praised the telco for adopting 5G, calling other telecommunication firms to adopt and use new technologies to solve challenges Ugandans are facing as well as answer bottlenecks that the business people haven’t been able to handle.

Asked by The Observer, on why they are jumping onto the 5G network before stabilizing and completely rolling out 4G, let alone 3G countrywide, MTN Uganda CEO; Mr. Wim Vanhelleputte, said “in technology, leapfrogging and skipping steps in the development curve is the norm, especially for developing countries.”

During the pilot launch at Nyonyi gardens, he said; “With 5G, Uganda will skip another step of rolling out fiber connectivity for everybody and go to the wireless connectivity.”

This increasing speeds by 100x compared to what 4G offers considering that 5G will use wireless transmission instead of fiber cables used for 4G.

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