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The Citizen newspaper reports that WIOCC shareholder Zantel, together with the Government of Tanzania and two other mobile phone companies, will jointly construct a broadband backbone in major urban areas of Tanzania. The project is expected to cost US$80-100 million and will cover Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Mwanza, Arusha and Mbeya. The government partnership with Airtel, Zantel and Tigo is intended to bring connectivity to urban dwellers. Since last year, the laying of the national ICT broadband backbone has been carried out in areas other than urban centres.

Meanwhile, the construction of a national ICT backbone has entered its final phase and only two regions —Rukwa and Kigoma—are yet to be reached. The backbone, which is the terrestrial continuation of the fibre-optic submarine cables at Dar es Salaam, was started in 2008 and is expected to cost about Sh251 billion when it is completed at the end of this year.

The construction of the backbone was divided into two  phases. Phase one became operational in July 2010 and covered the northern ring of the network with ten points of presence (PoPs), which included Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Singida, Iringa, Babati, Arusha, Namanga, Moshi and Tanga. Phase Two is expected to be completed by December 2011 with operational PoPs at Lindi, Mtwara, Tunduru, Songea, Sumbawanga, Tabora, Kigoma and Manyovu.

The government intends to turn the country into a regional ICT hub. The backbone project has already contributed to a drop in Internet capacity charges and internet users are estimated to number almost 5 million.

Read the full article here.

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