Communications Authority issues guidelines for Internet of Things

Communications Authority Director General Francis Wangusi (PHOTO: FILE)

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenyans will soon be able to purchase household appliances connected to the internet.

The Government has released guidelines for manufacturers and distributors wishing to introduce such products in the Kenyan market.

Various companies, including Samsung and LG, have launched household appliances capable of connecting to the internet, raising concerns about their regulation. The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), has now said devices imported into the country will have to be approved before they are released to consumers.

Everyday items

“Type approval for devices with embedded universal integrated circuit cards (eUICC) will be undertaken in accordance with the Kenya Information and Communications regulations, 2010,” explains the industry regulator in a Gazette notice dated May 15, this year.

Importers and distributors will also have to ensure the devices comply with international standards, primarily those from the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) - a lobby representing the interests of mobile operators worldwide.

GSMA unites nearly 800 operators with more than 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies.

Connected devices – popularly known as the internet of things (IoT) – refer to the network effect created from connecting appliances to the internet.

Device manufacturers are finding ways of embedding sensors into everyday items ranging from televisions and refrigerators to blenders and shower heads, creating a wide array of products for tech-savvy consumers.

More than 10 billion devices are estimated to be part of the internet of things, with the number expected to more than quadruple over the next two years.

South Korean electronics giant Samsung last year became the latest company to launch an IoT-enabled device targeted at the East African market dubbed Samsung ARTIK 053.

The hardware allows other devices with a wired or wireless internet connection to plug into IoT solutions.

Cybercrime

There have been concerns, however, that unregulated devices introduced into the Kenyan market could expose users to cybercrime, data harvesting or privacy violations.

“Where internet of things and machine-to-machine devices require the use of mobile station international subscriber directory number, (MSISDN), they shall be assigned numbering in accordance with the Kenya information and communications numbering regulations, 2010,” said CA.

The regulator said devices would be assigned 15-digit numbers with the +254 prefix and shall have provisions for all subscriber facilities, including number portability, caller line identification and access to emergency services.

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