The clamor for market leader position among Uganda’s telecoms continues to take shape with Africell, Airtel and MTN tussling it out to take the slot. As such, players like Africell who are determined to give their subscribers the fastest voice and data services have taken to expensive network upgrade in the areas of 3G, 4G and LTE necessitating investment of underground fibre network cable laying to deliver the best services for their customers.
However, in a bid to rake in more subscribers, some players are using underhand methods to frustrate their major challengers. One such player is Airtel which is being accused of diverting over 200km of internet fibre belonging to Africell to their lines. This anomaly which is pitting Africell against a bruised Airtel is leaving Africell in a frustrated position with Airtel failing to admit to the theft and further refusing to resolve it.
Airtel plays dirty
It is a known fact Africell has over the years been ranked the fastest mobile data network in Uganda and this was further affirmed last year when crowd-sourcing app-open signa, ranked them number one in Uganda. Today, Africell Uganda have taken the spotlight away from Uganda’s other telecom giants which has increased the competition in the industry.
Industry sources say Africell discovered much of their expansive fiber cable in areas like Entebbe, Bwaise, Bugolobi, 6th street in Kampala, Jinja and some parts of Northern Uganda intentionally diverted by Airtel to their network leaving the owners Africell protesting and crying foul.
Africell team’s efforts to try solve the challenge amicably have been turned down by a bullying Airtel who continue to play dirty in the face of evidence. Africell Chief Operating Officer Mohammad Ghaddar says Airtel’s move is not only unprofessional but against the rules of fair play. He asserted “We believe in fair play as Africell. We are investing in telecom infrastructure to give our customers the best service. We are disappointed in the motives of our competition who are frustrating our efforts to deliver services”
Is it fair play?
In Uganda, when it comes time to choosing mobile internet service, there’s more to put into consideration than just price. Some mobile data networks offer data speeds that are demonstrably faster than others.. This is what Africell has been doing over the past months-investing in their fibre –optic reach to serve their customers better.
However, incidences like these where Africell’s infrastructure growth plans are being hindered is regrettable. What remains to be seen now is whether unfair practices by the major players like Airtel against the growing brands like Africell wont destabilize the telecom industry’s growth. Already, other players continue to point fingers at the two leading telecoms who are not only kicking down the smaller players but also encroaching on their capacity to deliver credible services to their customers.