Kampala needs 400 towers to transform into smart city 

A study by American Tower Corporation (ATC) shows there is need for more towers given that high rise buildings are causing poor network signals. Photo / File   

What you need to know:

  • Kampala’s growth, according to UCC, continues to interfere with networks such as C-bands, which are used in communication between ground stations and satellites

A study by American Tower Corporation (ATC) shows that high rise buildings are causing poor network signals, and therefore more towers are needed to deliver satisfactorily.  

The towers to be deployed will take different designs and forms such as roof tops, pine trees, and smart poles.  

Ms Dorothy Ssemanda, the ATC chief executive officer, while presenting the findings of the study, said the 400 network towers will be supported by more than 444,000 points of service stationed at different city buildings. 

The points of service, she said, will be critical in providing faster internet and uninterrupted calls for delivery of key services such as health and education, and transforming Kampala into a smart city.  

“A smart city relies on technology to provide efficiencies that are important for the lives of its citizens,” Ms Ssemanda said.   

Ms Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, the Uganda Communication Commission executive director, said Kampala’s growth continues to interfere with networks such as C-bands. 

C-bands are used in satellite communication between ground stations and satellites.

“We have all these concrete buildings coming up, but do we know what these buildings do to the networks?” Ms Kaggwa wondered, noting that C-band antennas have weak frequencies, which cannot travel far, and neither can they travel through buildings. 

Therefore, Ms Kaggwa said the buildings were causing a coverage problem, which is “a consequence of development” requiring connectivity to be brought closer. 

Mr David Birungi, the Airtel public relations manager said, 185 out of the 400 towers will be on the 5G network, noting that ATC is considering extending the tower reach to the Greater Metropolitan Areas of Entebbe and Wakiso. 

ATC, which is the largest provider of wireless and broadcast towers, has also laid plans to wire Kampala city with smart poles that use solar to provide street lighting and internet to city residents, with a long term view of turning Kampala into a smart city.

Ms Semmanda said the desire is to support telecoms transition to green energy such and shift from diesel.  

ATC entered Uganda in 2011 through a joint venture agreement with MTN, which established a new joint venture tower company that acquired all existing tower sites from MTN’s operating subsidiary.  

ATC controlled a 51 percent stake, and MTN a 49 percent until in 2020 when ATC fully acquired MTN’s stake for Shs455b.