17 firms submit bids for ‘open access’ LTE scheme
According to Business Daily Africa a total of 17 telecoms firms have registered their interest in Kenya’s planned ‘open access’ Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. Of the companies involved, eight are known to be international equipment vendors, although they are all believed to have partnered with as-yet unnamed local companies in order to secure their participation in the project.
Global vendors include: Alcatel-Lucent (France), Huawei and ZTE (both China), Lollakfi (UK), Ericsson (Sweden), and IBM, Epesi Technologies and Cisco Networks (all United States).
As previously reported, telecoms regulator the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) was forced to extend the bidding period until 27 September after receiving no bids by the original 13 September deadline. The government indicated that it does not intend to give the incumbent cellcos access to 4G spectrum; instead it called for the implementation of a public-private partnership (PPP), with a view to creating a Universal Access System (UAS) for all of the country’s telecoms operators. The single network, joint ownership plan was put forward as a direct result of the problems Kenya experienced when issuing 3G licences at staggered intervals; Safaricom acquired a concession for USD25 million in October 2007, only to demand recompense when late entrant Airtel Kenya (formerly Zain) was issued with a UMTS licence for USD10 million in June 2010.
Although the full list of participants has yet to be revealed, Business Daily Africa reports that Telkom Kenya has submitted a bid for the project, albeit after the 11am deadline. Telkom Chief Executive Mickael Ghossein has denied receiving any official communication from the CCK, and the government has indicated that it is willing to overlook the technicality.
Meanwhile, Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo has confirmed that the CCK will commence its evaluation of the bids next week, and hopes to select the winners by December. Ndemo commented: ‘This process brings structure to the procurement decision and is meant to allow the risks and benefits to be identified clearly upfront and things to be looked at this second stage will be technical and financial capability of the firms to deliver’.