Rwanda’s sole 4G LTE network service provider- olleh Rwanda networks (oRn), has called upon retailers to desist from hiking Internet prices after the company significantly cut on its wholesale prices.
The company cut wholesale price of 1 GB by 27%, from Rwf 3,226 to Rwf 2,360 with a weekly validity and 5GB by 14.1% from RwF13, 981 to Rwf 12,000 with Monthly validity
oRn CEO, Han-Sung Yoon (Patrick), told KTPress that retailers should translate the reduction in offering fair prices to the consumers.
There are 17 4G LTE retailers, including the three telecoms (MTN, Tigo and Airtel) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) include; ISPA, Popconn, ISCO, Simba Supermarket and others.
By looking at the retail prices on the market, you barely notice any big differences and most of them are still priced high comparing to the communicated wholesale price
“We are the only provider of 4G LTE network, quality is the same, wholesale price is the same to all the retailers but retailers sell at different prices. Some of them make the population think 4G is expensive. It is not!” Han-Sung Yoon said.
Retailers, however, say that the pricing is not the only subject matter to 4G consumption.
Peter Maridadi, CEO for ISPA, an ISP, says there is also the element of demand. “Very few people need it, it is not because it is expensive,” says Maridadi.
oRn has since November 2014 installed 167 Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) – equipment that facilitate wireless communication between user equipment and a network.
With a current population coverage standing at 30%, oRn targets to cover 62% and 95% of Rwanda’s population with 4G LTE in 2016 and 2017 respectively
As of recent [Mid-April], the company, through 4G LTE Carrier Aggregation, has put Rwanda on the list of the very first countries on the continent to provide Internet speed of 250 megabytes per second (Mbps).
Nonetheless, the uptake of 4G LTE continues to be hindered by the cost of gadgets compatible with the technology. The cheapest 4G LTE enabled smartphone costs Rwf 62,000.
“This deters subscribers from using this technology,” says Ange Mugeni, an electronics shop owner in the city center.
The effort to sell 4G LTE also face challenges of competition. The technology came into Rwanda shortly after Telecoms had invested in 3G technology.
Barely five years, came 4G. Telecoms have not publicly admitted sabotaging the roll out of 4G, but KTPress is reliably told that they need to make return on their investment in 3G technology first.