Monday September 19, 2016

The government has allowed private and public agencies to pilot use of the 700Mhz frequency spectrum evacuated from media houses after digital migration for internet connectivity across Kenya.

Communications Authority(CA) Director-General Francis Wangusi said this was aimed at unlocking new economic opportunities across various sectors for reliable and faster internet downloads and communicatons services on a wireless platform.

The 700 MHz spectrum is the highest-quality wireless frequency enabling corporate and individual users access faster internet speeds from across the country with telco operators.

The launch follows Kenya’s successful migration from analogue to digital transmission of television and radio services which freed more spectrum for use in launch of commercial services via broadband technology.

Mr Wangusi said CA was also holding talks with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to fasttrack the planned launch of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) technology to expedite global flight tracking services for enhanced aircraft safety.

“Enhanced capacity to meet the growing demand for frequency spectrum that supports 4G and next generation 5G networks for mobile broadband services is critical for the growth of ICTs,” said the DG in a speech read on his behalf by CA’s Legal Services Director John Omo during Africa Telecommunications Union(ATU) first preparatory meeting in Nairobi.

Mr Wangusi said Kenya’s ICT sector policy was also under review where availability of frequency spectrum will be recognised as a key ingredient in the development agenda.

World Radio-telecommunications Conference

Mr Omo said that second tier operators would also benefit from the arrangement as they will be licensed to offer wireless connectivity as the government seeks to promote internet connectivity across various sectors in retail, banking, education and health services in both private and public sectors.

The ATU member meeting which attracted 180 delegates from African countries seeks to formally establish Africa’s single position ahead of the World Radio-telecommunications Conference slated for 2019.

Mr Wangusi said Kenya experienced an unprecedented demand on spectrum following successful launch of mobile phone based services such as virtual shopping platforms, mobile money and video conferencing.

“The increased rollout of broadband services and proliferation of new services requires an effective and optimal use the available spectrum.This remains key to the fast technological changes,” he said.

ATU Secretary General Soumaila Abdoulkarim said the preparatory meeting was crucial in forging a common front which will ensure African countries enjoy equitable access to spectrum resources under International Telecommunications Union control.

Safaricom has 11.8 million mobile internet users, Airtel 2.4 million while Orange has 2.2 million, according to the CA.