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SEACOM reaches across East Africa

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The final pieces of the East African connectivity puzzle are falling into place with the announcement today of a partnership that will extend international connectivity from the SEACOM undersea cable throughout East Africa. Uganda Telecom and Rwandatel have purchased capacity on the SEACOM undersea cable, and secured links from the landing point of the cable on the Kenya coast through to Kampala and Kigali.

SEACOM, Uganda Telecom (UTL) and Rwandatel (RTL) today announced a major partnership that extends the reach of international broadband capacity across eastern Africa.

Through concurrent deals, UTL and RTL have purchased international broadband capacity from SEACOM, while SEACOM has in turn secured a backhaul solution for Rwanda on the two regional players’ terrestrial networks between Kampala, Uganda and Kigali, Rwanda. Under the terms of the partnership agreement, both entities will have immediate access to the SEACOM network.

Uganda has been connected to the SEACOM network since its commercial launch on 23 July 2009, but this agreement means that Rwanda will benefit from the newly available broadband capacity as soon as September 2009. This development is in line with SEACOM’s objective to provide connectivity solutions to landlocked countries across the east and southern African region.

‚From the outset of this project, we realised the importance of connecting inland countries to our international network and today’s agreement is testimony of our commitment in that regard,‚ says Brian Herlihy, SEACOM CEO.

‚Many countries set out to deploy massive terrestrial networks in anticipation of the arrival of real and affordable international bandwidth connectivity. With more and more countries getting connected to the rest of the world via our system, we are eagerly awaiting to see the direct socio-economic benefits this will have for the entire region.‚

SEACOM has realised the importance of ensuring that Kigali and the greater Rwanda were connected as soon as possible to the international global network. Seacom’s purchase of the UTL and RTL’s backhaul solution guarantees that Rwanda will be connected immediately.

‚LAP Green Networks has always had a strong focus on international data connectivity and this is an approach shared by Uganda Telecom and other regional players looking to achieve first mover advantage in their respective markets,‚ says AbdulBaset Elazzabi, MD of LAP Green Networks, which owns UTL and RTL. ‚The capacity purchase by Uganda Telecom on the SEACOM network will dramatically modify the local Internet market and we look forward to a new era of true broadband across the region.‚

Patrick Kariningufu, CEO of Rwandatel, adds: ‚In line with our strategy to extend connectivity to the population, and in anticipation of the arrival of affordable international bandwidth, Rwandatel took major steps in developing its infrastructure. We are excited about our deal with SEACOM and look forward to delivering affordable broadband to our customers.‚

It remains to be seen just how far the operators will take their commitment to more affordable broadband. The South African experience has been that operators are taking advantage of lower costs on both the SEACOM and SAT3/SAFE cables to increase their margins, rather than passing the price drops on to their customers.

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