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MTN Uganda, Airtel move on 5G rollout

The new technology will open doors to more investment, foster innovation and position Uganda as a digital country in the region

Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | MTN Uganda has become the first telecom in the country to roll out 5G with the new network now available in the Lugogo and Bugolobi areas of Kampala.

The telco’s closest rival, Airtel Uganda, plans to roll out its 5G next month, starting with Parliament Avenue, Fairway, Speak Apartments and Crested Towers.

“We are incredibly proud to be the first to be live with a 5G network in Uganda, and we firmly believe that this cutting-edge network service will play a pivotal role in driving ICT solutions for economic growth and fostering unparalleled digital experiences for all Ugandans,” said MTN Uganda CEO Sylvia Mulinge on July 28.

She added: “This momentous event represents a leap forward for Uganda’s technological landscape. MTN Uganda is committed to bringing the latest network services to Uganda to ensure that together, we are unstoppable.”

She said the telecom company has for the past two years actively involved in innovating around the potential of 5G with its partners and that they are confident that they have built a strong foundation to grow and support their 5G ecosystem to deliver an exceptional experience for the customers.

MTN Uganda executives said the 5G will open doors to more investment, foster innovation and position Uganda as a digital in the region.

5G faster than earlier technologies

The 5G technology is said to be up to 100 times faster than its predecessor, 4G, and drastically reduces data transmission latency to a mere 5 milliseconds, significantly enhancing user experiences across various digital applications.

This means that the new technology is expected to unlock the full capabilities of next-generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high-definition video streaming, artificial intelligence, robotics, automated cars, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

MTN hopes to achieve internet speeds of at least 50 Mbps and provide 100% indoor coverage in Kampala City by the end of July 2024.

Ali Monzer, MTN Uganda’s Chief Technology and Information Officer (CTIO) said the telecom plans to have all the MTN sites across Uganda upgraded to 5G in the next two years.

“As we roll out 5G network services across the country, customers can soon expect to see the 5G icon on their compatible smartphones and devices, ushering in an era of unparalleled connectivity and digital experiences,” he said, noting that 5G network services will also complement MTN Uganda’s growing fibre and 4G network.

Meanwhile, on July 27, Airtel Uganda said it will begin its 5G deployment in Kampala starting next month following securing the 5G spectrum from the Uganda Communications Commission.

Airtel Uganda Managing Director, Manoj Murali said a list of rollout plans shall be communicated on the Airtel Website and social media.

“I am privileged to announce that the wait for 5G is over…we have gotten the required spectrum and are ready to transform the way people, businesses and communities connect and do business,” he said.

He said the 5G technology will play a big role in the growth of critical sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, education and health among others owing to its fast speed.

Last month, Uganda Communications Commission awarded spectrum to two of the country’s mobile operators, MTN and Airtel, in the crucial 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 2.3 GHz, 2.6 GHz, and 3.5 GHz bands, reaching at least 100 MHz per operator in mid-bands for 5G.