Uganda Telecom explores space-based connectivity

Uganda Telecom explores space-based connectivity

According to local press reports, state-owned operator Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) has announced a Memorandum of Understanding with AST SpaceMobile.

Uganda Telecom seeks to provide Ugandans with 100 percent coverage across the country with the help of AST SpaceMobileʼs space-based cellular broadband network, now under construction.

AST SpaceMobile says it is building the first, and only, global broadband cellular network in space to operate directly with mobile devices. AST says that its goal is to eliminate the connectivity gaps faced by today’s five billion mobile subscribers and bring broadband to approximately half of the world's population, who remain unconnected. It adds that it is working in collaboration with such major names as Vodafone Group, global innovation company Rakuten and wireless communications infrastructure company American Tower.

Ugandan news website says that the aim of the MoU is to explore opportunities to offer Uganda Telecom network users access to AST SpaceMobileʼs planned satellite network using their cell phones and other devices, anytime and anywhere within the country.

If correct, this is an ambitious target for UTL, which has had to deal with a number of financial difficulties since it was put under receivership in 2017.

AST SpaceMobile’s plans have already attracted interest from a number of potential partners, although the precise timeline for service availability and launch is not yet clear. The company claims so far to have entered into agreements and understandings with mobile network operators that collectively cover approximately 1.4 billion mobile subscribers.

In fact in early July it announced an MoU to collaborate with Smart Communications, a leading mobile services provider in the Philippines, to explore opportunities to extend SpaceMobile cellular broadband connectivity to the Philippines mainland, islands and surrounding waters after the service is launched.

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