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
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.