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Airtel secures spectrum as Zambia advances 5G strategy

Zambia’s ICT regulator, the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has awarded Airtel Zambia spectrum on the 800MHz frequency band at a cost of ZMK12.5-million.

ZICTA corporate communications manager Ngabo Nankonde explained that in September 2020, the Authority invited eligible licensees (those holding an Electronic Communication Network Licence issued by the ZICTA in the international market segment) to apply for the spectrum in the 800MHz band, and that 30 November 2020 was set as the deadline for applications.

Airtel was selected to receive the spectrum. With a subscriber base of over five million, the operator is the second largest in Zambia, after MTN Zambia.

ZICTA said some of the frequency will be used to strengthen the organisation’s ability to manage spectrum and thereby pave the way for the quick introduction of 5G services in Zambia.

It expects the spectrum to improve Quality-of-Service (QoS) through an enhanced voice user experience with faster call setup, clearer voice quality and fewer dropped calls.

The Authority said mobile broadband coverage is also expected to increase in both rural and urban areas as a result of the spectrum supporting superior indoor coverage and longer range.

According to Nankonde, the release of this spectrum would help facilitate the exponential growth in mobile voice and data traffic, fuelled by an increase in internet usage.

She said: “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), 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 short and medium term recovery trajectory of the economy.” ITWeb Africa

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