So this morning MTN Uganda announced that they had extended their 4G coverage from a few locations in the middle of Kampala to the whole country. Atleast major towns, not literally the whole country! Clearly my grandpa in Muhanga doesn't need 4G yet, but my "learned friend" Joanne in Kabale definitely needs a connection that can keep up with her insatiable appetite for knowledge.
I was excited to hear this bit of news because
less than a month ago I asked on Facebook why there was little 4G coverage outside the city center. I got a few inboxes from telco representatives about their plans for expansion, and how the expansion will be driven by feasibility. The takeout was that they aren't investing in 4G because its not yet commercially viable. And my biggest question was about how it will ever be commercially viable before being available! Limited 4G coverage will mean few people will buy 4G devices, meaning low usage/revenue. On the other hand, wide 4G coverage sets the stage for 4G device uptake and increased usage/revenue. Anyway, that was my layman view of things, but I'm glad it seems to be in agreement with MTN's strategy of being ahead of the pack, providing the future and users get onto it.
The launch itself was structured to demonstrate the power of 4G internet, starting with a breakfast buffet catered by Serena (ok that had nothing to do with Serena! It wasn't even ordered on HelloFood!) then we moved to the room next door that had several setups each allowing us to see the internet doing different tasks from our lives, both work and play. There were a few setups for HD movies and videos, it was running perfectly at 720p, we decided to max out the HDre and see whether it would keep up, fortunately it did at 1080p. What wasn't a match for the full HD however was the display itself. But that's on someone else not 4G internet.
Then there was a setup for office productivity apps, but since I wasn't in office or in the mood for office work, I decided to do some browsing of my favourite car websites which usually have videos that you can't watch when you have a data bundle counting down faster than your Yaka units.
We then had a video conference with the leadership team upstairs, which was a bold move on their part! Technology has been known to disappoint at very critical moments, even Steve Jobs the great had an embarasing moment when the latest iPhone froze in demo at a launch! Fortunately it run without a hitch, high quality video all through the session and the Q n A, with no single interruption. The risk paid off. So the leadership team came downstairs confidently, with smiles on their faces!
With the serious part done, all eyes turned to the biggest setup which had a bunch of adults playing video games during
working hours to demonstrate online gameplay. Daniel Omara was around to spice things up, and he started by advising us not to view the Call of Duty game as violence but as training since UPDF has been recruiting!
I didn't stay to see who won the games and what prizes they took home, but all in all the launch went well, despite being the morning that both Amama and Besigye got arrested. What's left now is to see whether it lives up to expectations. We'll soon find out and I'll post an update once I have used it for a while.
You can read the official story here: