5G network goes live as technology continues to redefine telecom sector

A woman uses  a smartphone to capture moments. PHOTO/EDGAR R. BATTE

What you need to know:

  • Telecom giants MTN and Airtel have rolled out 5G networks in Uganda. 
  • In ideal conditions, 5G is up to 100 times faster than its predecessor, 4G.

MTN Uganda, one of the leading telecom players in the country has rolled out its 5th generation (5G) mobile mobile network, touting it as a technology that delivers “higher peak data speeds.”

According to the telecom giant, the 5G technology also delivers ultra-low latency, implying its delivery response is much faster, with fewer delays. Further, it comes with increased reliability and greater network capacity.

“We are set to revolutionize the digital landscape and redefine the way Ugandans experience connectivity with deployment of 5G sites across all the cities in Uganda with the roll out having started in late July with sites in Kampala at Lugogo and Bugolobi areas, enabling MTN customers in the area the ability to access 5G.

“This significant advancement is poised to impact every aspect of daily life, from transforming industries to enriching entertainment, and catalyzing innovative breakthroughs that will shape the future,” reads a follow up statement issued on Monday.

Lightening up of this technology comes at the back of government’s allocation of 5G spectrum to MTN in June this year but is also the culmination of extensive 5G trials and testing first in 2020 and most recently in April 2023 when MTN Uganda and partners Huawei, and Hima Cement collaborated to showcase the 1st Commercial 5G use case in Kasese District, Uganda.

“This exemplified how investing in 5G technology future-proofs MTN Uganda’s infrastructure and positions Uganda competitively in the global digital economy,” Sylvia Mulinge, CEO of MTN Uganda said while speaking at the media briefing held at MTN Headquarters on July 28.

"We firmly believe that this cutting-edge 5G network service will play a pivotal role in driving ICT solutions for economic growth and fostering unparalleled digital experiences for all Ugandans,” she added.

About 5G

By embracing 5G, MTN Uganda seeks to open doors to more investments, foster innovation, and position Uganda as a digital hub in the region.

In ideal conditions, 5G is 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 new generation 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).

Uganda’s communications regulator, UCC, has set an ambitious target “to have internet speeds of at least 50 Mbps and provide 100% indoor coverage in Kampala City by the end of July 2024.”

Now, MTN Uganda's Chief Network service and Information Officer (CTIO) Ali Monzer says the firm is working to have all the MTN sites across all cities of Uganda upgraded to 5G in the next two years.

“This 5G is no longer just an idea – it is here, it works, and it has the capacity to bring about exponential improvements to our economy, and to the lives of all our customers,” he noted.

“As we roll out the 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,” MTN wrote of the development which will complement MTN Uganda’s growing fibre and 4G network.

*Additional reporting by Ismail Musa Ladu