Korean Telecommunication Rwanda Networks (KTRN), is set to spend over Rwf9.4 billion on expansion and upgrading of its Internet infrastructures ahead of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Elijah Iragaba, chief technical officer at KTRN, told Rwanda Today that following the introduction of the speed-based products, which expire after a certain period, there was a rapid uptake of the 4G products, which has exceeded the installed capacity.
"Over time we have introduced some products that require heavy usage of the Internet like speed-based products. These type of products are traffic hungry and consume a lot of traffic. With this, some of our base stations have become congested," said Mr Iragaba.
"Apart from servicing the current customers, the upgrade works will ensure that the guests who are coming in the country for CHOGM find quality service," said Mr Iragaba.
He added that the upgrades work will improve the coverage to 95 per cent from the current 94 per cent.
According to KTRN, the first phase which was concluded last year involved network upgrade for software optimisation, while improving Internet experience and better connectivity will be concluded ahead of the CHOGM slated for June 22 to 27 in Kigali.
According to the recent figures released by Rwanda Regulatory Agency (RURA), the 4G Internet subscriptions have increased to 76,274 in June 2019 from 28,602 subscribers in previous year.
Rura attributes the growth in uptake to the government support programmes, among them investment in ICT infrastructure and subsiding prices.
According to the recent worldwide mobile data pricing figures from Cable.co.uk, Rwanda has averagely cheap Internet prices compared with countries in the region.
The 2018 figures indicate that Rwanda charges an average of Rwf500 per 1GB of mobile data, while the same cost Rwf1,800 in Burundi, Rwf2,500 in Kenya, Rwf4,400 in Uganda's and Rwf5, 600 in Tanzania.
KTRN, however, said the upgrade of the network will not lead to higher charges unless Rura reccommends. However, 4G users are concerned about the slow Internet speed and network interruptions.
“I use 4G every day, it is not good as it used to be. Nowadays, it is not stable while in some areas mainly out of Kigali you can't access it smoothly. Though it generally works," said Cedric Ndahayo, a cyber-cafe owner in Kigali.
However, KTRN blames internet service providers who do not give information to their customers about the differences among the unlimited 4G packages, mainly for the smartphones, that was launched in the second quarter of 2018.
"Some of our retailers don't explain to the customers because for them what they are interested in is selling. They just sell and when a customer finds a limitation, a customer thinks it's a problem of 4G, yet it has something to do with the product he has bought," said Mr Iragaba.