Kenyan telcos, Safaricom and Airtel Kenya are now calling for the government to review the cost of airwaves in order to enable them to roll out cheaper services to their subscribers.
The companies argue that the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) needs to make sure firms can compete fairly in getting airwaves. This would lead to customers having a strong choice of affordable mobile networks.
The two say that the government needs to find a balance between raising billions of shillings from the sector and stimulating investment in the rapid roll-out of new services. This includes the highly anticipated 5G network that will ensure higher internet speeds.
In a written comment to the CA, Safaricom states, “The spectrum fees need to assist operators in striking a balance between efficient use of the resource and the cost of the service to the customers.”
According to Safaricom, the cost for TRX (transceiver) that is used to transmit signals remain high which then translates to the high cost of services for customers. Eventually, this ends up impeding investments in the sector.
Airtel Kenya concurs with Safaricom’s sentiments saying,” excessive fees can impede policy goals of delivering broadband access to everyone and lead to valuable spectrum remaining unsold…”
“There is a strong economic case to avoid the level of spectrum fees being determined on the basis of revenue-maximising objectives,” the company states further.
Both operators paid a whopping KES 2.53 billion licence fee for 4G internet spectrum in 2017 and 2018. Safaricom, Telkom Kenya and Airtel launched the high-speed service in 2014, 2017 and 2018 respectively.
With Safaricom clearly planning to launch Kenya’s first 5G network, you can see why it would advocate for a more affordable cost.