Ugandan enterprises should prepare for the transition to 5G technology

Wednesday February 19 2020

Martha Aheebwa

Martha Aheebwa 

By Martha Aheebwa

The Internet is very slow,” is a common complaint one hears among Internet users trying to download or upload mid to large data files.
With more than 23 million Internet users in Uganda today, up from about 21.6 million at the end of 2018, according to figures released by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the impact of Internet in our daily lives, has not changed, but rather continuously evolved with more development.
The Internet has consolidated itself as the universal source of information as well as a platform for the way business and communication is conducted world-over. The rapid growth and influence of social media and mobile technology have been a part of the impact of the evolution of Internet with improvements made in communication and its reach.
Notwithstanding the evolution, the growth trend of Internet usage in Uganda has been sluggish in recent times, according to 2017/2018 Uganda National IT Survey. In the survey, 76.6 per cent of the respondents attributed the low penetration to high access costs while 49.2 per cent pegged it on slow Internet speeds.
These factors have affected the growth and expansion of most businesses in the country as well as the adoption of Internet with a penetration rate of 37.9 per cent in Uganda. In Africa, Internet penetration stands at 39.8 per cent, while the rest of the world is estimated at 60.9 per cent.
To fast-track penetration and improve the quality of Internet for business and personal use, telecom operators are now shifting to Fifth Generation (5G) technology and software-enabled services with new advancements.
The latest Internet technology, (5G), is said to be 10 to 100 times faster than its predecessors and is predicted to replace the current wired networks. This calls for Ugandan enterprises to start preparing for the transition as soon as today.
A few days ago, at the announcement of a landmark partnership with Hong Kong’s telecom operator HGC Global Communications, Roke Telkom’s chief executive officer, Mr Roger Sekaziga, urged local businesses to embrace innovations such as Software Defined Wide Area Network in order to stay relevant in the current information-based economy. On its part, he said our focus right now is to continuously innovate by creating an ecosystem of partners that includes Global Telecommunication Partners, the regulator, government, banks and the private sector.
This mutual interdependence can shape the future of the sector, especially when enhanced with high quality Internet. For example, Software Defined Wide Area Network complements the ecosystem’s current network infrastructure, by allowing IT managers to remotely manage their site policies through a centralised controller.
This agility is critical in increasing network security, flexibility and scalability; translating into reduced connectivity costs and future-proofed business assets that positively impact the bottomline.
Therefore, as a country that plans to have increased economic growth for all its sectors, transitioning from former technologies to advanced ones, is a necessity, especially for the sectors that largely use the Internet.