Telecoms Regulation

Spectrum, defined in our previous blog, is a limited natural resource managed at the national, regional, and international levels. The purpose of spectrum management is to mitigate radio spectrum interference and maximize the benefit of usable radio spectrum.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) constitution fully recognises “the sovereign right of each State to regulate its telecommunication” and as such, its ‘Radio Regulations’ are not legally binding in member states.

It is a government’s responsibility to develop spectrum management policies that conform to the international treaty obligations of the Radio Regulations while meeting national spectrum needs.

National Spectrum Regulation

One of the most important tools for effective spectrum management is the National Table for Frequency Allocation (NTFA). The NTFA is a published document of national spectrum planning detailing how the spectrum can be used in the country. It lists services that can operate in each band, associated conditions (e.g. emission limits), and future plans for bands (e.g. changing the types of service which could potentially operate in them.

The NTFA is normally developed by the National Regulatory Authorities (NRA), in this case, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) in Kenya. CA plans frequencies for use by various services every four years following results from the World Radio Conference.

National spectrum plans should be reviewed regularly and, when necessary, they should be updated to keep pace with technology and changing demands.

Download the 2020 Kenya National Table of Radio Frequency Allocations document here.

Telecoms Regulation in Kenya

Communications Authority of Kenya Licenses Spectrum under the Unified licensing framework (ULF). The ULF framework is technology and service neutral and is structured into 3 main licenses;

1. Network Facilities Provider (NFP)
2. Application Service Provider (ASP)
3. Content Service Provider (CSP)

Network Facilities Provider is a licensee authorized by CA to build and commercially operate telecommunications/electronic communications systems. There are currently 3 categories of Licensees; Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3.

Application Service Provider is a licensee authorized by CA to provide application services. Application services are electronic communication services consisting wholly or mainly in conveyance of electronic signals.

Content Service Provider is a licensee authorized by CA to provide content services. Content services mean information of any kind normally provided at a fee and delivered over electronic communications networks and services. This information includes broadcasting content, financial information services, and information society services.

Network Facilities Provider Categories in Kenya

Tier 1 currently has 3 licensees; Safaricom, Airtel and Telecom. This category of Licensees are allowed to deploy communication infrastructure using any technology countrywide. These licensees are guaranteed national Spectrum reservation, particularly mobile services. The License is valid for 15 years, and has an application fee of Kshs 5,000 and an initial operating fee of Kshs. 15 million. They have an annual operating fee of 0.4% of their annual gross turnover or 4 million, whichever is higher

Tier 2 allows for the deployment of communication infrastructure countrywide, using any technology, only that spectrum allocation is regional and not national. The license is valid for 15 years, and has an application fee of Kshs. 5,000 and an initial operating fee of Kshs 15 million. They have an annual operating fee of 0.4% of their annual turnover or Kshs. 800,000, whichever is higher. Jamii Telecom, known for its Faiba brand, and Wananchi Group which owns Zuku, are among tier 2 licensees.

Tier 3 license allows a licensee to deploy communication infrastructure within a county using any form of technology except Satellite Communications because of its borderless nature. Spectrum is also allocated regionally. The license is valid for 15 years, has an application fee of Kshs 5,000, an initial operating fee of Kshs. 200,000 and an annual operating fee of 0.4% of their annual gross turnover or Kshs.160,000 or whichever is higher.

Tier1,2 and 3 licensees pay an additional annual spectrum utilization fee based on transmitters, bandwidth, and coverage. Tier 1 licensees pay further spectrum fees comprising initial spectrum fees and annual spectrum reservation fees.

CA periodically publishes a list of licensed telecommunications operators and service providers under the Unified Licensing Framework.

This is a series of blogs about Spectrum in a series of our publications on Community Networks.


Ms Catherine Kyalo is the KICTANet Africa Regional Coordinator for Community Networks under the APC-LOCNET initiative. She is passionate about community welfare and enjoys yoga to rejuvenate. LinkedIn | Twitter




Catherine Kyalo information

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