Connecting to the Internet in Uganda Today ! - Jun 22, 2008.
An eleven year old came to my home and found a very old computer in my sitting room and he very quickly switched it on. Minutes later he realized it was not connected to the Internet and his next words were ''This is useless''. We are talking of an 11 year old here. Looks like the Internet is now part of the school curriculum these days as opposed to learning how to type in the past.
I had bought a mobile landline or ADSL phone and with the help of my useless computer, I knew I was about to connect it to the Internet any minute. This mobile landline was connected to the MTN network so one Monday morning I start off my day at MTN. The lady told me that the service that would connect you to the Internet with that kind of phone is full to capacity, implying that with the number of people signed up under that arrangement, they cannot afford to add more sign ups because that kind of service depends on those signups and how busy they are. If more people signed up on that package are using the Internet, then you can be sure it will be terribly slow and if few people are using it then those few using it are likely to get faster connections.
This meant that If I had acted very fast I would have been part of the other lot which is enjoying the Internet at a flat fee of 100,000/- though of course with those exceptions as explained above. I crossed to UTL to find out if they had a similar service only to be told that it is full to capacity.
Having lost out on that one I tried out other plans and of course I'm looking for the cheapest plans possible. I start with UTL and I make my request very clear. I need to connect to the Internet but I do not want to have a slow speed plus other excuses like many people are using the Internet at that point in time. The lady pulls out a broadband order form and contract which had three pricing plans. 64kbps was US $ 106.2 for 30 days. You could go in for 128kbps or 256kbps which of course calls for more pricing but since we want to be practical here let us go with the 64kbps.
106 US Dollars is the price you pay for your computer to have Internet, ADSL Ethernet Modem US $ 150 plus installation charges of US $59. It would take four days from the time of paying to have the Internet up and running on your computer. Meanwhile in the first version, I had my mobile landline which unfortunately would not apply to the second plan. This meant that I had to buy another landline powered by UTL at a cost of 120,000/- or US $ 71.
This means that on that plan if you have to connect to the Internet with UTL, you will be required to spend US $ 386 or approximately 652,340/- UG Shillings. Article continues after sponsored Ad.
I'm done with UTL so I cross to MTN for alternatives after the cheap version had been fully subscribed. It turned out that MTN was using a slightly different technology and thus a different pricing structure. Business Centre calls it GPRS Internet and when I made my specifications clear I was again referred to head office which was a few yards from the business centre. Head Office gave me a print out and the product was called MTN Internet Lite but on analyzing the two printouts as a lay man I saw no difference in the two packages because in terms of requirements they were the same except for the product name. I asked the lady one more time as to whether this kind of connection would not tie me up with other users, she called some guy on phone and asked him to speak to me. He told me that for the kind of service I needed they had to inspect the area where I was to operate from and the cost would be over USD 250 per month. Now that we were speaking on phone chances are he left out vital information but they promised to call me with sufficient details.
MTN has a sharable service like in our first example where by you have to deposit a cheque to the tune of 100,000/-(Refundable) but I do not know when this can be refunded probably at the time when you pull out of the service, connection fees of 3,000Ugx (Not refundable) and the GPRS Modem of 350,000/- plus a monthly charge of 90,000/- The total pack of MTN inclusive of one month of service would add up to 543,000/- Ug Shillings.
There you go with two versions from different carriers. The choice is yours to choose a plan that meets your internet needs.