ZICTA has awarded Airtel Networks Zambia Limited a 20 MHz radio spectrum in the 800 MHz frequency band at a cost of US $12.5 million in a move set to boost the telecommunications company’s 5G service roll out.
The 800 MHz frequency is home to commercial wireless carriers and private radio systems and is critical for ensuring consumers benefit optimally from technologies.
In a statement, Tuesday, Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) public relations manager Ngabo Nankonde stated that the frequency, which was awarded to Airtel after a competitive process, would be used to enhance the spectrum management functions of the Authority, thereby paving way for quick introduction of 5G services for the very first time in the country.
“ZICTA has awarded Airtel Networks Zambia Limited radio spectrum in the 800 MHz frequency band at a cost of US $12.5 million, part of which will be used to enhance the spectrum management functions of the Authority, thereby paving way for quick introduction of 5G services in Zambia. A competitive process was used in which a Request for Offer was issued to all eligible international networks’ licensees (Mobile Network Operators) and Airtel emerged as winner. The spectrum is expected to improve Quality of Service through enhanced voice user experience that will see faster call setup, clearer voice quality and less dropped calls. Mobile broadband coverage is also anticipated to increase with extensive improvement expected in both the urban and rural areas in view of the superior indoor coverage and longer range that this spectrum band supports,” Nankonde announced.
“In addition, this development is projected to translate into increased investment in the network by the Mobile Service Provider, an introduction of new and innovative product offers, such as Voice-over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) – a standard high speed wireless communication, which offers excellent Quality of Experience for consumers, increased adoption of ICT services by consumers as well as increased revenues and a greater contribution to the treasury from the sector, which will contribute to the short and medium-term growth recovery trajectory of the economy.”
She stated that the release of the spectrum would also help keep pace with the recent exponential growth in mobile voice and data traffic.
“The release of the spectrum will also help keep pace with the recent exponential growth in mobile voice and data traffic, which is expected to continue as more socioeconomic activities are increasingly conducted entirely on online platforms in response to COVID-19 pandemic, which has come with restrictions on travel and face-to-face interactions. A few months ago, the Authority had, pursuant to Section 54(6) of the ICT Act No. 15 of 2009, determined that spectrum in the 800MHz band was on very high demand and should, therefore, be subjected to a competitive granting procedure,” stated Nankonde.
“On September 21, 2020, the Authority invited eligible licensees holding an Electronic Communication Network Licence issued by the Authority in the International Market Segment to apply for spectrum in the 800MHz band and 10:00hrs on November 30, 2020, was set as the deadline for receipt of applications. Thereafter, an Evaluation Committee was appointed to evaluate the application through a process that took place from December 14 to 16, 2020. Upon successfully meeting all the requirements, Airtel Networks Zambia Ltd has, therefore, been awarded 20 MHz in the 800 MHz radio frequency band.”