American Tower says Kampala needs 400 towers to turn into smart city

This dominance in 5G intellectual property could be attributed to Huawei’s active management of its intellectual property portfolio

5G can support a significantly higher number of devices per square kilometer compared to the existing 4G technologies

The Ugandan capital Kampala needs 400 towers to facilitate network signals in its bid to become a “smart” city, The Monitor reported, citing a study by American Tower Corporation (ATC).

It found that high-rise buildings are causing poor reception and recommends that the city installs more towers to enhance  performance. ATC CEO Dorothy Ssemanda said the 400 network towers would be supported by more than 444,000 points of service stationed at different city buildings.

The points of service, she said, will be critical to providing faster internet and uninterrupted calls for delivery of key services such as health and education, and transforming Kampala into a “smart” city that relies on technology to provide efficiencies important for the lives of its citizens, Ssemanda said.

Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo, the Uganda Communication Commission executive director, said Kampala’s growth continues to interfere with networks such as the C-band, used in satellite communication between ground stations and satellites. Kaggwa said the buildings were causing a coverage problem, which is “a consequence of development”, requiring connectivity to be brought closer.

David Birungi, the Airtel public relations manager, said 185 out of the 400 towers will be on the 5G network, noting that ATC is considering extending the tower reach to the Greater Metropolitan Areas of Entebbe and Wakiso. ATC also laid out plans to wire Kampala city with smart poles that use solar energy to provide street lighting and internet to city residents, with a long term view of turning Kampala into a smart city.

Semmanda said the desire is to support telecoms transition to green energy and shift from diesel.

ATC entered Uganda in 2011 through a joint venture tower company with MTN, which acquired all the existing tower sites from MTN’s operating subsidiary.  ATC controlled a 51 percent stake, and MTN a 49 percent until 2020, when ATC fully acquired MTN’s stake for UGX 455 billion.

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