Tanzania: Regulator suspends the issuing of new radio licences

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The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has suspended registration of new applications for radio licenses.The halting of the registration exercise has been attributed to the high number of licences already given out.

Prof John Nkoma, the director general TCRA told The EastAfrican in Dar es Salaam that the response from the industry had been overwhelming as the regulatory body had received an unprecedented number of applications in the past two years. He said the high number of people applying for radio licences was a result of the government liberalising the communication sector.

"Considering that spectrum is a scarce resource, TCRA is conducting an audit and allocation of bandwidth," he said. In addition, more applications were made when TCRA introduced the Converged Licensing Framework. The act of suspending registration and issuance of licences has raised an outcry from prospective applicants. Prof Nkoma said that the regulatory authority was conducting a market analysis of operations in the communications sector.

TCRA, established under the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority Act No. 12 of 2003, is mandated among other duties, to license communications and broadcasting operators and manage the frequency spectrum.

Statistics from TCRA indicate that, by 2006, Tanzania had 47 licensed radio operators. This number is set to increase with many pending applications. In October 2007, the authority was forced to reassign the 137 - 174 MHz frequencies. Reassigning the frequencies helped curb interference cases and ease operations in the bandwidth.

The TCRA has also issued warnings to those in possession of radio equipment illegally or operating radio communication without a valid license that they will be prosecuted and their equipment confiscated, as they are major causes of the high number of interference cases.

(The East African (Nairobi), 17 March 2008)