Mobile data bundles have become a necessity at this time and age where the internet is a basic need. But this necessity comes at a price that eats a substantial amount of one’s hard-earned money. In Uganda, the cost of data is a major limitation of Internet users.
A recent survey by the National Information Technology revealed that 76 per cent of the Ugandan Internet users cited the price of data bundles as a key limitation while 49.2 per cent cited slow Internet. In another research by Ecobankconducted last year, Rwanda was found to have the cheapest data in the East African region, followed by Kenya, Burundi, and Tanzania.
“When subscribing to the Internet, individuals consider maximum download speed (35 per cent) more important than the price of the subscription (30.9 per cent). Individual Internet users mentioned the high cost of using the Internet (76.6 per cent), the slow speed (49.2 per cent) and poor connectivity in some areas (41.4 per cent) as the three top barriers to using the Internet,” read the March 2018 study report.
According to data compiled by Cable.co.uk, a Broadband, TV and Mobile Phone Price Comparison Site, Ugandans pay on average $4.69 (Shs17, 231) for 1GB [gigabyte] of data, the second-highest in East Africa behind Tanzania, where 1GB costs $5.93 or Shs21,787. Consumers in Rwanda, pay the least, with 1GB costing $0.56 or (Shs2,057) while in Burundi and Kenya, the same goes for $2 (Shs7,344) and $2.73 (Shs10,024) respectively.
Experts, however, say that the retail prices do not reflect the wholesale prices that distributors acquire the same for internet bundles as the hard economic rule of internet pricing comes down to distance which translates to cost. If all users in Uganda are consuming content that is hosted in Europe, it will be fairly expensive to deliver than if they were consuming content that is hosted in Nairobi, that is cheaper.
“Some countries have excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure and so providers are able to offer large amounts of data, which brings down the price per gigabyte. Others with less advanced broadband networks are heavily reliant on mobile data and the economy dictates that prices must be low, as that’s what people can afford,” said a consumer telecoms analyst.