CA says freed spec­trum to ex­pand Kenya’s 4G ca­pac­ity

Both the 800Mhz and 700Mhz fre­quen­cies were freed up after the coun­try mi­grated from ana­logue to dig­i­tal tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ing in 2014

The Star (Kenya) - - News - BY RICHARD MUNGAI @Richiy­mungai

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Author­ity is test­ing an un­used ra­dio spec­trum freed after the coun­try moved to dig­i­tal broad­cast­ing from ana­logue, for pro­vi­sion of faster and cheaper broad­band speeds.

The spec­trum - 700Mhz fre­quency band - has the po­ten­tial to pro­vide broad­band and data ser­vices at faster speeds and in a more cost-ef­fi­cient man­ner.

This was re­vealed yes­ter­day to del­e­gates at­tend­ing the African Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Union prepara­tory meet­ing for the 2019 World Ra­dio- com­mu­ni­ca­tion Con­fer­ence in Nairobi.

Ac­cord­ing to CA, the 700Mhz spec­trum is more ef­fi­cient than the 800Mhz that is cur­rently be­ing used by Sa­fari­com, Or­ange and Air­tel to of­fer 4G mo­bile broad­band.

“Kenya has ini­ti­ated the trial phase of the 700Mhz. We be­lieve that the en­hanced ca­pac­ity to meet the grow­ing de­mand for spec­trum for mo­bile broad­band ser­vices for 4G and for next gen­er­a­tion 5G net­works is crit­i­cal for the growth of ICTs,” CA di­rec­tor gen­eral Fran­cis Wan­gusi said in a speech read on his be­half by the di­rec­tor of le­gal ser­vices John Omo.

Ac­cord­ing to ATU, African coun­tries are ex­pected to con­duct a self as­sess­ment on util­i­sa­tion of ra­dio fre­quency spec­trum con­sid­er­ing that a num­ber of them are grap­pling with a prob­lem of al­lo­cat­ing the re­source.

In Kenya, for in­stance, Or­ange and Air­tel ganged up in protest last year after CA al­lo­cated Sa­far­iom 800Mhz fre­quen­cies for tri­als of the 4G mo­bile broad­band with­out in­volv­ing them.

CA later asked Sa­fari­com to sur­ren­der part of the fre­quency to al­low equal re­dis­tri­bu­tion.

Both the 800Mhz and 700Mhz fre­quen­cies were freed up after the coun­try mi­grated from ana­logue to dig­i­tal tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ing in 2014. The 700Mhz fre­quency is likely to be given to ac­cess providers since they are the only in­ter­net ser­vice providers that are yet to launch the 4G ser­vice.

The top ac­cess providers in the coun­try in­clude Wananchi Group which owns Zuku and Jamii Tele­com that owns the Faiba brand. The ac­cess providers mostly rely on The East African Marine Sys­tem which is an ini­tia­tive spear­headed by the govern­ment of Kenya to link the coun­try to the rest of the world through a sub­ma­rine fi­bre op­tic ca­ble.

Wan­gusi said the coun­try is also prepar­ing to in­stall the Au­to­matic De­pen­dent Sur­veil­lance – Broad­cast on air­craft to ex­pe­dite global flight track­ing for im­proved air­craft safety.

“We are also keen to fol­low through the ITU Ra­dio Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Sec­tor study pro­gramme in the in­ter­ven­ing pe­riod be­fore the WRC19,” he said.


In­ter­na­tional Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Union coun­selor Philippe Au­bineau, Ps Broad­cast­ing and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Sammy Ite­mere with Africa Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Union sec­re­tary gen­eral Ab­doulka­rim Soumaila dur­ing the ICT con­fer­ence in Nairobi yes­ter­day.

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