16 February 2013

Rwanda: Hoteliers Move to Streamline Internet Connection

Through their association, members of the Rwanda Hotel and Restaurant Association will soon be subscribing to one Internet Service Provider (ISP's) in a move aimed at enabling members pay less subscription fee to access high speed internet.

This, members of the association believe, will avoid cheating or overcharging by ISP's yet they are provided by slow internet speed.

"Among other things, we have asked Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (RURA) to conduct a tender so that these ISP's can compete so that we as a bloc identify the best we shall deal with in terms of services," said Dennis Karera, the association's chairman.

Recently, RURA launched a survey on Internet connectivity in hotels across the country that revealed that Internet service providers are taking advantage of the ignorance of their clients to overcharge and provide them with slow Internet connection.

One of the many irregularities that were found in the survey that was conducted last year in 31 hotels, was that ISP's were charging different costs for the same amount of megabits. For example, some hotels paying Rwf318,000 per one megabit, while others were paying Rwf600,000 for the same.

The report observes that such charges have therefore resulted in some hotels doing away with internet services; one of the factors that experts in the hospitality industry say chases away some customers from hotels.

"Before even a client books in a hotel, the first question will be inquiring if there is internet in the facility; therefore a slow one will disappoint a customer," said Karera, who also runs Park View Courts hotel in Nyarutarama.

He added that according to information reaching his desk, the government reduced the costs it charges ISP's to tap into the national optic fiber, but that the ISP's have not considered reducing what they charge clients.

The chairman added that the association was considering using the same strategy even in other services such as cable television, equipment as well as hotels advertising their services.

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