Earlier this week, Rwanda’s two mobile operators, MTN and Airtel, hit a significant milestone by launching 4G LTE networks in the East African nation.
The launch follows the government of Rwanda’s decision to change its earlier plan to rely on a single wholesale network for 4G, 5G, and future communications technologies.
In 2013, a venture deal between Korea Telecom, holding a 51% stake, and Rwanda’s government, owning 49%, resulted in the formation of Korea Telecom Rwanda Networks (KTRN), which had a 25-year wholesale monopoly licence.
However, as part of its new national broadband policy and strategy, the government reversed its licensing decision last year to allow more players into the market. To this end, MTN and Airtel unveiled 4G networks just days apart.
The first mobile provider to receive a licence for 4G was Airtel Rwanda. The company’s MD, Emmanuel Hamez, declared: “The launch of our very own 4G LTE network demonstrates our commitment to providing access to affordable, high-quality connectivity services to all Rwandans.”
MTN Rwanda, which has over 60% market share, announced its 4G plans in May when it reported its 2023 first-quarter performance.
MTN said the introduction of 4G technology will provide improved connectivity, faster data speeds and pave the way for improved internet access.
Mapula Bodibe, CEO of MTN Rwanda, said, “By launching the next generation 4G LTE technology, we are not only investing in the network, but we are also, and most importantly, investing in leading digital solutions for Rwanda’s progress.”
At the end of March, MTN Rwanda had 6.9 million mobile subscribers, 2.2 million active data subscribers, and 4.4 million mobile money subscribers, while Airtel Rwanda had almost 4 million mobile subscribers.