Safaricom, Airtel Clash With CA Over New Frequency Guidelines

Image courtesy TRT World

Network operators like Safaricom and Airtel operating in Kenya have clashed with the industry regulator over a new proposed rule that seeks to alter the distribution of frequencies.

The law dubbed Frequency Spectrum Management Guidelines 2020 was introduced by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) that looks to guide on the State’s distribution of the resource.

Some of the proposals from the CA include setting aside spectrum for use by the national and county governments. This is alongside enhanced penalties for its interference and underutilisation by service providers.

Safaricom alongside other telcos has responded by opposing the proposal, as some operators might be exempted from paying billions of shillings in spectrum fees.

“Licensees will be required to pay requisite frequency fees prescribed by the Authority as and when they fall due,” states the proposal in part.

“Failure to which will result in penalties or other actions as stipulated in the authorisation instrument (the license), the Act and the regulations. However, this will not be applicable to licensees who have been exempted from payment of frequency fees.”

It would be a long shot but we would assume that the licensee that would likely not pay the spectrum fees would be Telkom Kenya that is still owned partly by the government.

According to Safaricom, all service provider be treated equally and pay uniform spectrum fees.

“In the spirit of fair treatment, all licensees should be treated equally in so far as payment of license fees is concerned,” said the telco in its submissions to the regulations.

This clash comes about two weeks after the same firm asked the CA to reconsider the cost of acquiring airwaves in the country. The request comes amid reports and confirmation of Safaricom’s plans to have 5G network established in the country.

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