Could spectrum award boost Airtel Zambia’s 5G prospects?

Could spectrum award boost Airtel Zambia’s 5G prospects?

Airtel Networks Zambia Limited has been awarded 20 MHz of radio spectrum by the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) in the 800MHz frequency band.

The cost of the spectrum, according to independent news website Zambia Reports, is said to be $12.5 million. The move is expected to boost the telecommunications company’s 5G service rollout, although, with no specific date mentioned, it’s hard to know when this might happen.

Airtel apparently won a competitive process in which a Request for Offer was issued to all eligible international operators. On September 21, 2020, ZICTA 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.

An Evaluation Committee was appointed to evaluate the application through a process that took place in December. Airtel Networks Zambia met all the requirements.

ZICTA public relations manager Ngabo Nankonde was quoted as saying that the spectrum is expected to improve quality of service through an enhanced user experience that will see faster call setup, clearer voice quality and fewer dropped calls.

In addition, of course, this spectrum band supports longer range, so mobile broadband coverage is also anticipated to increase in both urban and rural areas.

Nankonde also suggested that the award could pave the way for new and innovative product offers such as VoLTE. More importantly perhaps, she also said that the release of the spectrum would help to keep pace with the recent exponential growth in mobile voice and data traffic, not least in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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