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Huawei urges government to allocate more spectrum to local telcos for 5G expansion


Additional investment in spectrum for future mobile network usage is important in anticipation of the exponential growth of 5G connectivity in Kenya.

Speaking at the Connected Kenya Summit, Adam Lane, Huawei Kenya Deputy CEO, Government Affairs said that most telecommunication operators currently lack sufficient spectrum resources to launch full 5G services.

The 6 GHz band is key for the success of 5G devices and it is important for this radio frequency spectrum to be available for use by mobile networks in the future as the demand to connect homes and businesses through 5G modems and dongles continues to rise.

“With high network demands by large households and entire businesses that take advantage of near unlimited data packages offered by 5G, we expect the radio frequency spectrum allocated for 5G services last year will not be enough in a few years’ time. 6 GHz is also a potential ultra-wide band for ‘5.5G’,” said Lane pointing out that data from the Communications Authority show that Fixed Wireless subscriptions grew by 33% in 2020 and in 2021 but last year exploded by increasing 67%.

In 2023, the firm expects to see the large-scale roll-out of 5G networks in Kenya alongside 5G pricing packages that are more affordable than 4G, and the long timelines for rolling out fibre optic cabling to every home and business in Kenya to reduce considerably.

Lane noted that these near future predictions reinforce the need for local industry player to start thinking ahead 3-5 years to ensure the telco networks maintain capacity for more internet and mobile telephony connections while keeping prices low.

He explained the complexity of global negotiations around deciding how spectrum should be used meant that global regulators have to agree years in advance so that the equipment and devices can be compatible and other services not affected.

He further added: “Both our networks and devices need to be upgraded to deliver 10 Gbit/s experience. By the end of this year, it will be crucial that Kenya supports the decision to use the 6GHz spectrum band use for mobile telephony so that network operators can avoid building 5 times more base stations to provide enough speeds for those customers which will keep costs high”.

According to PwC, operators can minimise deployment cost by having access to sufficient spectrum enabling countries to benefit from the potential growth in GDP afforded by mobile services. Limited spectrum will require operators to deploy additional base stations to meet traffic demand and this can have an impact on further investment in geographic roll-out, quality of services and prices.

Elizabeth Migwalla, Vice President of Government Affairs at Qualcomm Inc in a previous interview with TechTrends Media said that spectrum is there and governments just need to release them to operators. She noted that there is a need for certainty over spectrum roadmaps and regulatory rules on issues such as license renewal, taxation and coverage obligations.

‘’Countries simply need to release the spectrum. It is there. And they need to release the spectrum to operators with the conditions that are appropriate. There is no need to try and get millions.’’ she said.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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