Safaricom asked to return 5MHz of 800MHz spectrum

17 Dec 2015

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has asked the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Safaricom, to hand back part the 800MHz spectrum it was awarded last year, so that the 4G LTE-suitable frequencies can be reallocated to two smaller players, Airtel and Telkom Kenya. According to local newspaper The Star, the regulator has requested that Safaricom return 5MHz of the 15MHz it was awarded, which will then be handed to the cellco’s smaller rivals, along with an additional 15MHz, giving each of the three operators an equal 10MHz allocation of 800MHz spectrum. ‘After discussions, we all agreed that the 800MHz [spectrum] be channelised at two by 10MHz, which means the 30MHz that has been released, we can be able to get three slots. For fairness and parity, we need to equally distribute them to the three players,’ CA director general Francis Wangusi was quoted as saying.

In November 2014 Safaricom signed a KES14.9 billion (USD143 million) national security communication contract with the government, giving it access to additional frequencies in the 800MHz band, which the cellco use to switch on commercial LTE services in Nairobi and Mombasa one month later.