LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 AFRICA, TANZANIA: Airtel, Millicom and Vodacom will launch six 3G pilot sites across Tanzania to test “the sustainable provision” of mobile broadband services to 13 million underserved people across rural areas.

It is dubbed as the first active infrastructure sharing initiative in East Africa.

The agreement is the result of a year-long collaboration between the GSMA Connected Society programme, the country’s three largest operators and the government of Tanzania.

The pilots are structured around a methodology to roll out mobile broadband networks that can be replicated, and the GSMA expects to launch similar projects in other markets over the next three years.

17 million citizens currently access the internet in Tanzania, and account for 34 million connections, but the project will focus on the remaining 13 million citizens yet to be connected.

69 per cent of the population lives in rural regions. As population density in such areas varies significantly, operators have deployed 2G networks to up to 85 per cent of the population, but 3G is mostly limited to urban areas, resulting in only 35 per cent of the population being covered.

“Governments with large rural communities need to promote the acceleration of national broadband coverage by releasing low-frequency spectrum, incentivising commercial sharing arrangements to facilitate infrastructure roll-out in rural areas, and creating an enabling taxation environment in order to deliver the mobile internet, even in the most challenging of places,” said Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA.