Rwanda Gov’t intervenes to address Internet disruptions

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Students using the internet. The Sunday Times

Internet disruptions will be no more following new guide lines issued by the government obliging all telecom operators and internet service providers (ISP) to offer diversity of internet bandwidth to consumers.

The Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), have put in place new measures where any affected operator will be required to tap into available bandwidth of other operators at a pre-negotiated price.

The new directive comes after the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSY) cable suffered multiple cuts between Djibouti and Port Sudan – which carries the majority of international Internet traffic – affected MTN Rwanda a few days ago.

Speaking at news conference yesterday, Dr. Ignace Gatare, Minister in the President’s Office in Charge of ICT, said the guidelines will help operators ensure clients’ services are not affected by outage.

“If one internet service provider is affected in an event of a disaster, then it will be very easy to be backed up by another operator who is not affected,” he asserted.

Gatare stated that Rwanda relies on three submarine fibre optic cable systems for the internet traffic connection through local telecommunication companies and ISPs; EASSY, The East African Marine Systems (TEAMS) and SEACOM.

“If one of the internet providers is supplied by EASSY and has a backup from TEAMS, it means internet cut offs from both cables is out. We want a permanent agreement between telecom operators and ISPs, where one is affected by fibre cut offs, the other can back them up immediately without entering into fresh agreements,” ICT minister explained.

He mentioned that the directive has already been communicated by the regulator to all telecom operators and ISP’s and will take immediate effect.

Regis Gatarayiha, the Director General of RURA, stated that all internet operators and providers will be required to provide guaranteed level of service to end users through the new agreement.

“The consumers will not be affected by internet disruptions since the internet operators will be in position to support each other in case of international internet fibre disruptions,” he added.

Maher Maarouf, MTN Rwanda’s Chief Technical Information Officer, welcomed the new guidelines saying it would benefit both the providers and end users.

“We have multiple internet routes, and during the recent EASSY disruptions, we relied on Artel for internet connection. Not all our links were down, this new directive is very important to maintain a certain level of internet bandwidth supplied to our clients,” he noted.

By Frank Kanyesigye, The New Times

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