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Zambia targets 75% internet penetration with new spectrum licence

Zambia , 16 Feb 2021

Zambia’s telecommunications regulator has announced plans to issue a new 20MHz frequency spectrum in the 800MHz band with bidding scheduled to end on 2 March 2021.

According to the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Regulatory Authority (ZICTA), the licence’s reserve price is US$12.5-million and eligible bidders must have an electronic communication network license in the international market segment. They cannot owe any spectrum or other licence-related fee.

ZICTA said while Zambia has experienced notable growth in the ICT sector, the new spectrum will enhance access to ICT and increase the country’s internet penetration level to 75%.

The regulator added that the demand for spectrum is increasing and that new spectrum would improve the quality of telecommunications services, considering the amount of radio spectrum bandwidth acquired by an operator is directly linked to network size and network traffic.

“The larger the bandwidth, the better the capacity and consequently, potentially, the better the quality of service. The demand for more spectrum continues to increase owing to technological advancement, higher preference for data speeds by consumers as well as growth of the electronic communication networks,” ZICTA stated.

The expectation is that higher quality telecommunications will help Zambia achieve some of the targets associated with the Smart Zambia initiative.

“The increase in broadband coverage can be achieved by ensuring that necessary adequate radio spectrum is available to operators. In turn, the operators must be encouraged to provide broadband services both in the underserved and unserved areas of the country thereby improving coverage,” it said.

In late December 2020, the regulator awarded Airtel Zambia a spectrum in the 800MHz band after the operator paid US$12.5-million for the license. Part of the spectrum is expected to be used to pave way for quick introduction of 5G services.

According to the ICT market statistics for 2020 released by ZICTA in early February 2021, there were over 19.1 million mobile subscriptions in Zambia at the end of 2020 with a mobile penetration of about 107%, while the mobile broadband penetration rate in the country stands at 57.1%.

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