Telcom firm, Airtel Uganda has taken a price war to the door step of MTN Uganda with a massive increase in internet capacities. The telco, effective Feb.21, doubled daily internet bundles and increased the one on supa combos seven times for the same price.
In addition, the telco unveiled the cheapest 4G smartphone Airtel Benco Y40 to boost uiversal access to affordable internet. The device has been priced at Shs250,000. It comes with a Shs86,500 worth of 13 GB of data redeemed as 2GB for the first month and 1GB for the next 11 months.
Airtel Uganda Managing Director, Manoj Murali said the new initiative is meant to reduce the cost of internet, giving more people affordable access to the full benefits of the internet and ICT solutions.
“Growing equitable access to the benefits of the internet requires Investment in a 4G network, which Airtel has done. It requires affordable data, which Airtel is known for, and lastly, it requires affordable 4G smart devices,” he said. “… we are here to support government in the private sector led digital transformation of Uganda by presenting the cheapest 4G smartphone on the market.”
Murali, however, appealed to the government to reduce taxes on entry level smartphones to reduce the cost of the devices and further reduce the cost of data as more people will be connected to the internet.
Data from Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) shows that while the country had 29.17million telephone subscribers, only 9.4 had smartphones, and thus unable to harness the power of the internet such access to online education and health.
This development comes exactly three weeks when MTN Uganda increased the low valued internet bundles by up to 65MBs or 66% to lure customers and ward off competition.
MTN Uganda customers now get 65MBs instead of 40MBs for Shs 500, 165MBs instead of 100MBs for Shs 1,000 and 365MBs instead of 300MBs for Shs 2,000.
Wim Vanhelleputte, the chief executive officer at MTN Uganda said the decision was meant to deliver value for customers at affordable prices.
“We have revised our daily data offers permanently to give more value to our customers, because it is our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life,” he said.
Currently, Uganda’s telcom industry is dominated by two telcom firms – Airtel Uganda and MTN Uganda following the exit of three players – Warid, Orange and Smart telecom over the past decade citing stiff competition.
UTL, which is partly owned the Ugandan government and mostly used by the government agencies, has been limping for decades as a result of financial squeeze partly due to non-payment of bills by the very government agencies. This has ultimately limited the company’s capacity to invest in the latest technology and grow its business.