News from Airtel Kenya and the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) state that the carrier has paid KES 1.13 billion for a network license. The payment will see the telco offer additional data services to customers without increasing bundle charges. At the same time, the development is said to have been motivated by high demand for Airtel data services as Kenyans look for the best deals when accessing the net using cellular networks.
The CA says it has now given the operator a non-contiguous 2×10 MHz block of spectrum in the 2100 MHz for $10 million valid for 10 years.
However, this has long been coming. Back in February 2022, we discussed Airtel Kenya’s legal friction with the ICT regulator. Most of that tussle is centered around high spectrum fees.
In 2020, Airtel wrote a letter to the CA, and lobbied it to revise spectrum fees downwards.
The plea’s main point was that a review of spectrum fees would enable carriers to deploy cheaper services to customers.
Airtel added that the existing structure did not allow companies to compete fairly in the telecom space.
Market leader, Safaricom was the first to launch 4G services back in 2014. The license cost the carrier a healthy sum at KES 2.5 billion.
Then in 2017, Telkom Kenya managed to acquire the same license. It was a big time gap from Safaricom’s launch, which had the financial muscle to pay for LTE spectrum.
Airtel only managed to launch 4G services in 2018.
Nonetheless, Airtel says that it will clear the KES 2.2 billion bill for its current license it has been using since 2015. Airtel Kenya’s operating license expired back in 2015.
Since then, the CA has been trying to compel Airtel to pay the said amount following the said expiry.
Airtel Kenya has since admitted it will pay the funds in instalments.
Payment will be completed over the next three years, and this will allow the firm to renew its operating license.
Airtel only had two options to settle its issue with the CA: sell 30 percent of its stake to locals, or pay the KES 2.2 billion. Airtel, as of this February, has picked the latter option.
The funds were wired to the CA on March 16.