Namibia Moves To Ditch 2G & 3G, Launches Next-Gen Spectrum Auction

By  |  February 23, 2023

In an era when frequency allocations busy Africa’s telecommunications industry, Namibia, a geographically large but sparsely populated country on the continent’s southern jurisdiction, is looking to kick-start its [own] spectrum auctions.

Per a communique from the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), which is the nation’s telecoms watchdog and regulator, it has [already] launched the bidding process for 4G and 5G-capable spectra in the bands of 700MHz and 800MHz. 

In a Request to Bid published on 17th February, the CRAN prescribed that telcos who wish to bid need to hold either a class comprehensive or individual telecommunications service license. The regulator also stipulates that interested parties must painstakingly map out their rollout strategies, at least for the next three years. 

Bidders also need to explain how they will boost these internet coverages in Namibian areas where less than 80 percent of the population is connected to 4G networks. 

Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) introduced the country’s first fourth-generation internet connectivity in May 2012; for context, South Africa, a close neighbor, and Africa’s most industrialized economy, switched on 4G in October 2012. 

Yet, while South Africa already has commercial 5G connections, no less than 370,000 Namibians have no access to 4G, no thanks to the slow development of network infrastructure. 

Urbanities in South Africa can boast of 100 percent 4G access, and 90 percent of its rural dwellers have the coverage. But, only 85 percent of the entire Namibian populace have 4G access, and 7 of the 14 regions in the nation have lower than 80 percent coverage. 

In a clarion call for more private sector investments into the country’s telecoms sector, the CRAN’s CEO, Emilia Nghikembua reported that just half of Namibia’s 14 regions are covered with 4G connectivity, with Kunene, Kavango West and Omaheke regions having less than 50 percent coverage. 

The frequency to be allocated can only be used for 4G or 5G services and are, per the CRAN’s directives, not for 2G and 3G. Reports have it that the spectrum has a minimum mobile broadband speed of 20 MB/s. Three allocations are up for grabs, each comprising a pair of paired blocks; interested parties can only be granted one lot. 

Issued licenses would be valid for a decade, after which obligations can be optionally renewed. While applications have started, the deadline for submissions is April 17th. Participants will be confirmed on April 21st, the bidding will be held between April 24th and 28th, results will be revealed on June 30th and spectra issuance is set for August 21st. 

Besides Namibia, other African countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and even DR Congo have held spectrum auctions and allocated frequencies for both 4G acceleration and 5G rollout. 

Featured Image: Darvideo.tv

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