Somalia’s broadband networks to enjoy greater international connectivity
This week there have been a bevy announcements that bode well for Somalia’s telecommunications networks. Three telecom operators or wholesellers have announced partnerships that will enhance international connectivity – mostly through fibre – but also via satellite. The benefits of network upgrades may not reach consumers for a few months, but the commitment to better services is apparent.
- Hormuud Telecom (HORTEL), one of the most prominent Somali telcos, is connected to Liquid Telecom’s 17,000km pan-African fibre network through a cross-border link across the Kenya-Somalia border. As a result, mobile operators and wholesale carriers will enjoy improved connectivity in southern and central Somalia. This is reportedly the first international fibre link for the country. When the cable goes live, users can expect voice call and data rates to drop by 50 percent. 4G network trials (unspecified if LTE or WiMAX) will begin next year with charges of $0.03 per megabit (one-third of the current cost).
- WIOCC has partnered with Dalkom Somalia, a leading wholeseller, to launch connectivity via the EASSy submarine cable in Q1 2014. Capacity from 2Mbps to 10Gbps will reportedly be available (to operators) in Mogadishu. The move claims to be the first commercial operation with international fibre connectivity direct into Mogadishu. Dalkom is in the process of building a data center to host equipment for ISPs to utilize the international connection.
- On the opposite (but complementary) side of fibre, Somtel will utilize O3b networks to boost its network connectivity using high speed, low latency (under 150ms) satellite capacity. The service will launch for ISPs, mobile operators, and business customers in early 2014.
Many Somali telcos admit that connectivity is neither reliable nor adequate to meet growing consumer demand. But everyone is optimistic for what’s in store for 2014. Mohamed Ahmed Jama, CEO of Dalkom Somalia anticipates society to soon benefit from international fibre links, as mobile penetration stands at 60% and internet use is very limited:
As has been seen in other African countries over recent years, access to affordable, high-speed, international connectivity has a significant impact on economic, political and social development… and improvements happen relatively quickly. To complement the new connectivity to EASSy, Dalkom Somalia is building a fibre-optic metropolitan area network that will extend connectivity to customers within Mogadishu. This entire initiative will greatly benefit the growing number of international organisations and local business entrepreneurs there, as well as the people of Somalia. I expect it to drive lower cost internet and broadband, to boost mobile penetration from its current 60 per cent and to dramatically increase the development and use of internet-based services and applications – with all the associated benefits to my country and the international companies operating there. We operate an open access policy and encourage all local operators and ISPs to take advantage of the new infrastructure we are bringing to our country.”