Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya will be required pay Sh2.5 billion each for the 4G spectrum license fee that the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) will start issuing next month upon payment of the fees.
Francis Wangusi, the CA director-general, said that the technical committee has approved the issuance of the license but the management is still waiting for the final go-ahead from the next full board meeting.
Besides paying the license fees, the three mobile operators will also be required to share at least 30 per cent of the 4G frequency spectrum with smaller telcos once allocated licenses for commercial rollout of the technology.
Mr Wangusi said the move to compel the operators to share 30 per cent of the spectrum is aimed at giving smaller operators such as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and tier-two infrastructure providers such as Liquid Telecoms, Jamii and Wananchi Group access to the limited resource at a lower fee.
CA had earlier said Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom will be allocated equal share of the preferred 800MHz frequencies.
The 800 MHz band, according to Airtel, enables an operator to roll out 4G services at a lower cost because it provides good network coverage with fewer radio infrastructure (radio base stations ) than the 1800 MHz, the other broadband spectrum.
The allocation of the frequency was made possible following a resolution arrived at the Geneva Radio World Conference in mid-December 2015 where African countries agreed to allocate mobile telecommunication firms additional frequencies freed-up after migration from analogue to digital TV broadcast.
Airtel and Safaricom were last year issued with limited geographical area 4G frequency spectrum on a pilot basis while Telkom Kenya’s new shareholders Helios Investment Partners last week said they will be applying for the license in the coming weeks.
The drive by the mobile operators to rollout the high speed Internet service is propelled by the need to tighten their grip on the data market segment which together with mobile money payment services is seen offering future growth opportunity. The 4G frequencies enable the telcos to offer high speed Internet to mobile phone customers as well as broadband-based TV broadcasts.
Story done by Michael Odemba