Prepping for 5G

Airtel Acquires Spectrum To Launch 5G In Tanzania

By  |  October 13, 2022

In the wake of efforts to push the continent further into the digital age, African telecom operators are increasingly investing in 5G network connectivity. Airtel Tanzania has become the latest in the fold as it freshly acquires the spectrum needed to roll out the service.

Airtel Africa, which is operational in at least 14 African markets has announced the purchase of 140 MHz of additional spectrum across the 2500 MHz and 3500 MHz bands from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) for a reported USD 60.1 M. The imminent network expansion will reflect in mobile data and fixed wireless home broadband capacities.

According to the local subsidiary, the acquisition will help in the provision of substantial capacity that will cater to the strong data growth it has noticed in the East African country’s market. Soon after the announcement, Airtel Africa’s shares were up by 0.9 percent or 1.10 pence. 

“This investment reflects our continued confidence in the opportunity inherent in the Tanzanian market, supporting the local communities and economy through furthering digital inclusion and connectivity,” the company said in an official statement. 

This development comes roughly a month after Vodacom, a part of Vodafone, launched the first-ever commercial 5G network in the country’s capital, Dar es Salaam, with intentions to penetrate several other Tanzanian metropolises by November 2022. 

Data reporting portal, Statista, says Vodacom leads Tanzania’s telecoms turf with 29.4 percent unit shares as of the last quarter of 2021. Airtel comes second with 27.2 percent, while Tigo claims the third position with 24.7 percent. Four other competitors have fewer shares than any of the top three players. 

It is unclear when testing or rollout of 5G services will commence. However, Airtel Africa is yet to officially deploy such a service anywhere in Africa, as it is currently looking to double down on its 4G capacity. 

In June, its unit in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) paid USD 42 M for additional spectrum to expand its 4G offerings. In July, its Kenyan unit purchased a 15-year 4G and 5G license in Kenya for another USD 40 M. In Nigeria, the telco pulled out of now-concluded 5G auctions when its USD 270 M offer was out-bidden by MTN and Mafab Communications. 

The 2022 Digital Quality of Life Index, from the stables of Dutch-owned Surfshark, ranked Tanzania as one of the countries with the worst digital life quality globally; the market ranked 106 out of 177 surveyed countries representing 92 percent of the world’s total populace.

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