More Rwandans and small businesses will now be able to access high speed internet, commonly known as Fourth Generation Long Term Evolution or 4G LTE, after one of the vendors slashed prices by almost 70 per cent.
Retail internet services provider, ISPA, and wholesaler, Olleh Rwanda Networks (ORN) announced the price cut for 4G internet on Wednesday following a public outcry about the high rates.
4G LTE was launched last year, but a handful of users have accessed the service as its devices and package pricing were hitherto too high for the ordinary user. However, this should now change after the price cut.
Peter Maridadi, the ISPA chief executive officer, said the new rates were agreed on with ORN. Now one gigabyte of 4G LTE internet costs Rwf1,300, down from Rwf4,100, representing a 68 per cent reduction. Following the wholesale price cut, customers will pay just Rwf39,000 for 30 gigabytes of unlimited internet per month under ISPA flagship 4G Internet package, which was previously at about Rwf160,000.
“A customer will be able to use one gigabyte per day, but still continue accessing internet even when after their daily package has been used up. This has never happened before,” Maridadi said.
He said the new product was targeting households and small-and-medium enterprises as part of the initiatives to increase the service uptake.
Maridadi added that the move (price cut) will augment efforts to attain a cashless economy “since it will be affordable for service providers like hotels, supermarkets and public transporters”.
Jean Baptiste Mutabazi, the in charge of communication regulation at the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (Rura) told The New Times that since the service was launched in October last year, only 1,000 users have been hooked onto the service.
Speaking at the event, the Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, challenged other Internet service providers to borrow a leaf from ISPA and come up with innovative products to boost uptake.
“With 4G internet, the next big question is how many people are connected to the service.
“4G is a service whose uptake grows exponentially and gradually. I hope the initiative unveiled today (Wednesday) will kick-start this growth,” Nsengimana said. The minister called for more public awareness campaigns to drive up the country’s internet penetration rates. Rwanda’s penetration rate stands at about 25 per cent, according to Rura figures.
“Remember, affordable internet contributes significantly to a country’s growth. When broadband penetration increases by 10 per cent, this enhances the ICT sector contribution to GDP by one to 1.5 per cent,” he explained.