Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology is currently being adopted globally due to its tremendous download and uploads speed; in an effort to reduce costs for service providers who intent to use 4G network, the government of Kenya is seeking a public-private partnership to set up an independent platform for LTE technology, service providers will then need not acquire expensive licenses as was the case with 3G technology. The latest development has clearly shown admission of flaws by the Kenyan ministry of Information and Communication in the licensing and allocation of 3G spectrum; despite most mobile service provider’s being issued with 3G licenses, they’ve not been able to roll out the service across the country.
Safaricom is the only service provider in Kenya with a wider 3G network covering 1,500 base stations out of 2,500 base stations across the country followed by Orange Telkom Kenya with 220 sites. Although Bharti Airtel Kenya was issued with 3G license way before Orange Telkom, the mobile service provider is yet to roll out the service and continues to assure subscribers of launching soon. There is no doubt mobile service providers in Kenya have experienced difficulty in raising the mandatory $15 million 3G license fee, acquiring the license is one thing and rolling out the service is even more expensive. Today, service providers are shifting to LTE infrastructure as a way of addressing most concerns associated with internet connectivity such as rural and under-served areas. LTE technology otherwise known as 4G has great potential compared to 2G and 3G networks; it offers fast internet connection speed estimated to be more than ten times that of 3G; you can actually download a HD movie within minutes on 4G instead of hours on 3G and days on 2G.

For cost reasons, the Kenyan government is now seeking to join with the private sector in establishing, building and maintaining a new company with nation wide presence that will manage 4G/LTE spectrum for service providers. The new LTE/4G company will be based on open access platform bringing together all service providers and equipment vendors, in this case, costs which could have been incurred by all 4 providers individually, will now be incurred by one company. Expenditures incurred on 4G/LTE technology include purchasing active components that transmit/receive signals and passive components responsible for signal processing. The most unusual feature about this arrangement is the fact that it will be the first of its kind in the world where service providers share both passive and active components in discharging their services.

If this arrangement goes on as planned, the open access idea will benefit both big and small telecommunications companies in Kenya, they will no longer be required to apply for costly 4G/LTE licenses, after establishment of 4G /LTE Company, the main issue will surround management roles. Other factors affecting the transition involve unavailability of 2.4GHz spectrum commonly used for LTE around the globe, Kenya’s 2.4GHz spectrum is used by the military.