Govt in policy shift to roll out high speed internet network

Friday December 02 2022

Rwanda has made great strides in closing the internet coverage gap. Picture: Cyril Ndegeya

By Caroline Mbugua

The government has reversed its decision to depend on a Single Wholesale Network for 4G, 5G and future technologies. Instead, it has opted for a new broadband policy which opens the door for better 4G penetration in all parts of the country and the launch of 5G in future.

Rwanda has made great strides in closing the coverage gap, with just 1 percent of the population left out.

The adoption of broadband services, on the other hand, and in particular 4G services, remains lower compared with countries in the region, according to GSMA Intelligence data, an organisation that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide.

As at the end of 2021, 24 percent of the total population was connected to mobile Internet services. However, critically, another 75 percent live in areas covered by mobile broadband networks but do not yet use mobile internet services. This share is 14 percent higher than the regional average.

The launch of the National Broadband Policy and Strategy reaffirms the country’s commitment to connecting all citizens.  The new policy offers a great opportunity for Rwanda to catch up with other countries in the region.

According to GSMA, the future of mobile broadband in Rwanda depends on what happens next. A successful way forward starts with the government and mobile operators collaborating on long-term solutions towards the implementation of the policy.


Mobile Network Operators (MNO) access to an adequate amount of spectrum under favorable conditions is paramount and the new policy opens the door for high-quality 4G service at affordable prices to consumers.

Rwanda’s new broadband policy includes support for technology neutrality in the utilization of spectrum assigned to service providers for the deployment of mobile communications services.

This paves the way for the rapid deployment of 4G services by all service providers in the country and actualize economic benefit brought about by introduction of 4G mobile broadband technologies:

With the infrastructure already deployed to utilize legacy technology-specific spectrum assignments for 2G and 3G, MNOs are ready to deploy advanced 4G technologies although the government is required to clarifies how all licensees can utilize their current spectrum holdings in the deployment of 4G services.

The government needs to develop and publish a plan which will illustrate trends in technology, assess spectrum needs for new technologies, identify needed spectrum bands, highlight plans to clear spectrum where needed, provide timelines for spectrum release, etc...

The decision to allow technology neutrality in Rwanda comes with additional challenges to be resolved between the government and the licensee of the current 4G network.

Technology-neutral spectrum licenses enable mobile operators to reform spectrum used for GSM (2G) or 3G to 4G and 5G, a process that is driven by market demand. This maximizes spectral efficiency in a technical sense and also maximizes efficient use of spectrum.

Rwanda’s new broadband policy includes support for technology neutrality in the utilization of spectrum assigned to service providers.