MTN Uganda is the latest African operator to reveal plans to offer a commercial LTE service to its subscribers. The company – a subsidiary of South Africa's MTN Group – is currently upgrading its network to offer 4G speeds of up to 100Mbps.
The company plans to roll out the commercial LTE service as part of a $70m investment in Uganda during 2013, having spent $80m last year on expanding its network infrastructure and rolling out new products.
Over the past two years, MTN Uganda has launched the country's first mobile money service, upgraded its 3G offerings, expanded its distribution footprint, and updated its core, radio capacity and infrastructure technology. The operator has also extended its fibre network by laying optical fibre and building regional switching centres in the north, east, west and central regions of the country.
MTN has also expanded and upgraded backhaul links to the Mombasa submarine cables EASSY and TEAMS over the past two years.
Mobile broadband deployments are heating up across East Africa, where the arrival of a number of new submarine cables off Kenya's coast in the past three years has brought cheaper and better quality international bandwidth to a region that had to rely on slow and expensive satellite connectivity. In addition to EASSY and TEAMS, the private equity-owned cable Seacom has helped to bring cheaper international connectivity to the region.
MTN Uganda's LTE deployments follow the small-scale launch of LTE services in Uganda and Tanzania during 2012 by Smile Telecommunications, a mobile operator started by former MTN executive Irene Charnley. The Kenyan government is pushing operators to deploy LTE in the next few months. Elsewhere in Africa, LTE is also steadily seeing an increasing number of rollouts.