Treasury approves 4G partnership roll out deal
Kenya will begin rolling out its 4G network later this year after Treasury gave approval for a public-private partnership to carry out the project. The country will be among the first to roll out the technology in Africa and among 39 countries globally. A consortium of 10 members will carry out the project and will include the four mobile operators, Safaricom, Airtel, Essar (yu) and Telkom Orange. Data carriers KDN and MTN Business, equipment makers Alcatel-Lucent and Siemens, American firm Epcsicom and the government of Kenya make up the membership which is expected to operate like The East Africa Marine Systems (TEAMS) undersea cable consortium.
The consortium which held a meeting last week, will meet again this week to establish an escrow account into which consortium members will deposit their contributions, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, the Information permanent secretary said yesterday. “We have gotten the approval from Treasury to form the consortium,” Ndemo said. “We are meeting this week to set up the special purpose vehicle and to create a policy (framework).”
Ndemo spoke on the sidelines of the ongoing East Africa Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi. Alcatel and Siemens are likely to provide the equipment to roll out the network while operators will provide the base stations where the 4G radios will be mounted. The network will be rolled out on the 800Mhz band currently held by Orange. The company is expected to free up to 25Mhz within this band for use by 4G also known as LTE.
The network will be shared through an open access model. Non-members will be able to access it by paying for capacity. The government decided to use the shared infrastructure model to make it affordable for consumers. Ndemo said if an auction method had been used, the big players in the market would have bid any amount and then passed on the high costs to consumers.