NAIROBI, KENYA: Internet service providers (ISPs) and all mobile network operators will soon be subjected to a new law.
The proposed law is contained in a draft Wireless Broadband Spectrum Policy published last week by the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology as the Government moves to overhaul the existing spectrum management framework.
It further seeks to level the playing field in distribution and make it easier for smaller firms to bid for and deploy wireless broadband services.
Some of the proposals contained in the draft guidelines include providing incentives and coverage obligations to service providers to serve rural and other under-served areas.
“Public protection and disaster relief services and research and development initiatives may be exempted in whole or in part from paying the requisite spectrum licence and usage fees,” read the proposed guidelines in part.
Spectrum fees are the monies paid out by licencees to occupy specific radio frequencies on which they channel their services.
Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is the agency mandated with the task of allocating and assigning radio frequencies to the various service providers.
Up to 65 per cent of the Sh8.7 billion that CA generated in revenue in the 2015-2016 financial year came from spectrum fees as three mobile service providers acquired various 4G and 3G licences. The new guidelines will also compel the regulator to address concerns raised by some service providers that the current spectrum allocation structure favours leading mobile service provider Safaricom.
According to CA data, Airtel, Telkom and Safaricom have 10 megahertz (MHz), 7.5MHz and 17.5MHz of spectrum on the 900MHz frequency band respectively.
Safaricom acquired an additional 7.5MHz that belonged to Essar Telecom in 2014 as part of the transaction that saw the firm bought out by Safaricom and Airtel.
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Other service providers have in the past reached out to the regulator to have Safaricom cede some of the frequency spectra it currently holds, claiming it gives the service provider an unfair advantage.