85% of new mobile phone connections are internet-enabled - UCC

The growth in internet subscription in a digital enabled economy has also provided a stream of revenue to telecom evidenced by demand in data. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • The growth means that at least one in every two Ugandans have an active internet connection, which represents a penetration of 52 percent.

At least 85 percent of new mobile phone connections are internet-enabled, according to details from Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). 

Data from UCC indicates that during the third quarter of 2021, out of the 200,000 new mobile connections, 170,000 were data-enabled connections thus driving growth of in internet subscriptions. 

During the period, a UCC report indicates, internet subscriptions for the first time crossed the 22 million mark from 21 million. 

The growth means that at least one in every two Ugandans have an active internet connection, which represents a penetration of 52 percent.

UCC also noted that high broadband connectivity is driven by the continued shift to data-enabled low-cost entry internet-enabled gadgets pushed by both mobile network operators and independent handset importers.

“During the period under review, the market yet again saw continued vendor mobile network operators’ partnerships for flagship brands. These partnerships included bonus data offerings to stimulate demand,” UCC noted, saying that on a year-on-year comparison, the growth in broadband connections is similar to that observed in the fixed and cellular subscriptions. 

During the period, broadband subscriptions grew by 1.9 million - a 10 percent increase - as of September 2021 compared to September 2020.   

The growth in internet subscription in a digital enabled economy has also provided a stream of revenue to telecom evidenced by demand in data. 

For instance, a report from Airtel, which registered data revenue growth of 31 percent, shows this was largely driven by an increase in the telecom’s data customer base and data usage growth over the period.

Airtel’s data usage per customer per month stood at 2.6 gigabytes, up to 44 percent year-on-year, while smartphone penetration grew to 9.4 million devices across the country.  

Telecoms have been investing in connectivity with both MTN and Airtel, which currently at least share more than 90 percent between them, promising millions of dollars in investment to ramp up the country’s internet infrastructure. 

Mr Wim Vanhelleputte, MTN chief executive officer, early last month announced the telecom will commit $ 300m (about Shs1 trillion) over a three-year period - that commenced last year - to consolidate its services across Uganda, with the aim of upholding the country’s broadband policy. 

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