A Malawi with better internet connections soon?

Last week I attended the ICT Fair organised by the Malawi Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Lilongwe. Among the usual displays was one by Malawi Telecommunication Limited. They were showcasing wireless internet PCMCIA cards that they said can provide internet access at speeds of 115kbps. Although coverage is limited to a few urban and semi-urban areas, it should be a popular alternative to fixed wireless and dial-up services. A representative at the stand said he expects monthly costs to average around K14,000.

In a similar development, Celtel Malawi has launched GPRS services after select customers tested the service for a little over a month. Initial pricing is 19 units (19 cents) per megabit with an expected increase in cost. However, the pricing does not sound too bad.

These developments should send alarm bells ringing in the corridors of the major internet service providers. With setup costs at almost zero, these ISP’s really need to come up with innovative ideas to retain their current customer base. One problem I can foresee however is that despite being promised 115kbps, the reality is that we shall all be sharing some very measly up-link which will in turn keep up firmly in the stone age of internet communication.

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