Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications has said the country is at an advanced testing phase of a advanced 4G/LTE network, months after it advertised tenders for the technology’s equipment.
“Today, we are testing the next generation of Internet,” minister Samuel Poghisio said yesterday at the groundbreaking inaugural ceremony of Konza Techno City
In August 30, 2011, the government opened the bid for LTE spectrum, aiming to enter into a public-private partnership with telecommunication companies with over 20 percent local ownership who wished to enter into an open access LTE scheme.
The intention was to create a universal access system (UAS) for the country’s existing telecom operators and to avert problems experienced when awarding the countries 3G networks, with Safaricom having dedicated $25 million and Airtel Kenya $10 million.
The government further announced that it did not intend to award its 4G spectrum.
In October last year Poghisio stated that the government was ready to release spectrum for use through LTE, although it was not clear on what policy as it had the options of auctioning it to private holders or state-run corporations.
“The government will release LTE spectrum in the 700 band but has still not yet decided whether it will auction the spectrum or use it as part of a government investment,” Poghisio said.
“We are looking at all options. It is easier obviously to just auction it and get the money and go, but in Africa I think we have to rethink that because after you have taken the money and gone it is already gone to do something else.”
According to some observers, the government’s announcement has come as no surprise as stakeholders had been, on the face of it, knowledgeable about the developments. However, with the debate that has hit the industry lately on the viability of 4G in the country, it is likely that the government has chosen to play its cards close to its chest.
It remains unclear as to when the service will be rolled out for use by the public.