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UTL's new technology to broadcast TV, mail

Uganda Telecom's mobile phone subscribers will be able to watch television and read office mail from their cellphones once its 3G network is rolled out this year.

Uganda Telecom's (UTL) managing director Abdulabaset Elazzabi said the deployment of the first 3G network in November 2007, will enable UTL to enhance its network coverage in terms of capacity and service quality to Ugandans around the country.

3G refers to ‘third generation' wireless communications technology. It delivers multimedia products across mobile communication devices to subscribers. 3G aims to deliver much higher data rates of up to 2 megabits per second over wide geographical areas.

“Uganda Telecom customers will be able to send and receive corporate emails so that they can stay in touch with office, watch television on their mobile phones wherever they may be, make video calls, send multimedia messaging, and carry out e-banking,” said Elazzabi.

The announcement was made during a ceremony to sign a €20 million contract between UTL and Alcatel-Lucent in Kampala. The contract will facilitate the expansion of its GSM/EDGE mobile network and the deployment of the first UMTS/HSPA network in Uganda.

Besides delivering multimedia services to subscribers, 3G will also enable affluent clients to monitor security at their homes courtesy of their home CCTV cameras, using 3G/EDGE mobile phones. It will also enhance the downloading of music and streaming of video from the internet.

Elazzabi said under the agreement, Alcatel-Lucent would supply wireless network management system solutions and engineering tools: “Alcatel will also be responsible for network design and complete network integration and maintenance services.” The deal is also expected to optimise the operator's transmission of voice and data traffic from the base stations to the core network.

Alcatel-Lucent's president for Europe said the new technology would enable UTL to offer world-class services to their customers and leaders attending the Commonwealth Summit in November in Kampala. The summit is expected to attract about 3000 foreign guests including ministers, politicians, businessmen, and around 1000 journalists - a group that will need to be able to communicate with their offices in various countries.

UTL's competitors MTN Uganda, which has the largest number of subscribers, is also upgrading its network coverage at US$50 million. This is aimed at increasing its capacity to handle heavy traffic and increase speed of data transmission. MTN subscribers are able to send picture messages and surf the internet using GPRS technology on compatible phones.

Celetel Uganda, the third operator recently rolled out One Office, an internet to PC product that can provide multimedia services at regional rates. Uganda's mobile subscription reached over 3 million in June this year.

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