The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has awarded Airtel Networks Zambia Limited radio spectrum in the 800 MHz frequency band at a cost of USD12.5 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.
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.
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 socio- economic 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.
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.
The Authority wishes to congratulate Airtel Networks Zambia Limited for this milestone and wishes it well in its operations as it takes advantage of this Spectrum to enhance the quality of experience for consumers as well as contribute towards the development of the ICT sector.