TELECOMS

Telkom Kenya Begins 3G Trials and pleas for lower licence fee

In a Sh2 billion initial investment, Telkom Kenya has launched trials of its 3G service in Nairobi, but frets over the $25 million license fee, as being out of reach for growing networks.

Speaking to the Daily Nation on Thursday, Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Officer, Mickael Ghossein said industry players are engaging with the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to reduce the $25 million (Sh1.9 billion) license fee charged for 3G deployment.

"Having already invested a substantial amount in this project, we would be happy to get a positive consideration from CCK to reduce the figure which may ultimately be a barrier to deepening communication services," Ghossein said.

He says that the spectrum fees charged for a 3G service rollout is currently way too much for the firm and if they have to pay the fee, they will not be able to recoup it. Asked on what figure he will prefer, he said he would prefer the amount waived altogether.

Tests will initially cover the city centre, Mombasa Road up to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Milimani area and Westlands. Infrastructure firm, Ericsson will provide an end-to-end support for the Orange 3G network including design, implementation, rollout, testing and operations support.

Telkom Kenya joins Zain Kenya that recently said that it had plans to roll out its 3G service mid next year, but also insisted on the revision of the licence fees. According to Zain, the current licence fee is prohibitive and offers low returns on investment, a situation that is not conducive to the firm rolling out its 3G.

Safaricom was first to roll out 3G services, obtaining a licence in October 2007 in the country in selected urban centres. It has around 1.65 million 3G customers. On this issue, Safaricom says all operators should be treated equally as it would not be fair on their part if others don't pay since Safaricom had already made this payment paid.

Another operator, Essar Telkom, operating in Kenya under the Yu brand, is also said to be in plans to roll out the network.

Daily Nation

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