Due to the pandemic, many Ugandans are working remotely, and as a result, there is increased demand for Internet connectivity. However, increased demand has come alongside higher costs. On 1st July 2021, the government introduced a 12% excise duty on airtime, value-added services, and Internet data.

Internet service is an essential tool for improving competitiveness and efficiency, reaching customers, and interacting with vendors, and with the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become even more critical. Business owners already struggling to maintain their businesses afloat are now also grappling with this added expense. The Covid-19 Business Information Hub spoke to Samuel Aruho, a Customer Service and operations Engineer with Nokia Networks, about how business owners can optimize Internet usage for their businesses. He shared four tips:

  1. Determine the data speed and reliability you need

Internet speeds are determined by how much data the connection can download or upload per second—often referred to in Mbps (megabits per second) or Gbps (gigabits per second). The speed and reliability also depend on your location and the data plan you have. Business owners must engage service providers to test data speeds at their locations; this helps you understand whether the connection will be fast enough and offer a performance quality suited for services and applications you use. It also helps you avoid overspending. Businesses can also take advantage of several tools available on the Internet to evaluate data speed needs, such as https://www.verizonwireless.com/freedom/datacalculator.html.

  1. Choose an appropriate Internet connection

There are different types of Internet connections, offering various performances in terms of data speed and mobility. These include optical fibre, cable, satellite, WiFi, and 3G/4G mobile networks. While the different types of connections are associated with various pros and cons, the choice of connection typically depends on your requirements. In terms of reliability and link uptime, broadband WiFi Internet and Mobile WiFi routers (Mifi) serve as a clear leader against using 3G/4G mobile networks. Mifi routers are the best option for businesses having less than five users who are working remotely. For companies with more than five workers, broadband Internet provides a suitable connection. It allows you to connect up to 10 devices at the same time. The initial cost for a broadband Internet ranges between UGX 165,000 to UGX 350,000, while a Mifi router will cost you between UGX 100,000 to UGX 135,000 depending on the service provider. You can learn more about the available broadband packages here or visit any of these providers MTNAIRTELSMILE or ROKE Telkom for more information.

  1. Reduce unnecessary streaming

Streaming of any kind (music, videos, etc.) increases data usage dramatically. Video streaming is especially something to be cautious about when you need bandwidth for other tasks such as online marketing or virtual meetings. When using apps like Facebook or YouTube, ensure to switch off ‘auto play’ and decide which videos you want to open and watch. You can also cut back on data usage from streaming by watching videos in standard definition instead of high definition. When watching a video, you can select the data usage options auto or low, which consume less data than watching in medium or high that consume more data. Businesses can also consider restricting users to limit streaming, ensuring they instead use bandwidth for more critical tasks for business operations.

  1. Schedule data usage according to business activities

Business activity usually rises and falls according to predictable schedules. Many companies operate on a nine-to-five schedule, while some experience peak activity when the sunsets. Scheduling activities and data usage according to this pattern allows further optimization of digital resources. Suppose your business operates on a nine-to-five basis. Here, you can limit backups and software updates until the evening when operations are done and save a particularly intensive update or backup for the weekend instead. A company that has activities concentrated in the evenings and on weekends should consider the opposite schedule. These backups and updates are critical; remember, if your software isn’t up to date, you can suffer from seriously decreased performance, and you may also risk losing important information if data backup is not done regularly.

The actions above are not exhaustive on optimizing your Internet usage, but they are a strong starting point. Let us know how they work for you via this email covid19businessinfohub@gmail.com.