Airtel Uganda has acquired radio frequency spectrum across multiple bands to deploy 5G technology in the most recent auction concluded. The move comes after the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) initiated a spectrum sale process on May 25, 2023, inviting applications from telecom operators to obtain 5G spectrum licenses. Airtel Uganda emerged as one key player in the spectrum sale.
Uganda Spectrum Sale
The spectrum sale, conducted by the UCC, offered frequencies in various bands, including the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 2.3 GHz, 2.6 GHz, 3.3 GHz, 3.5 GHz, 5 GHz, and E-band (71 GHz-76 GHz, 81 GHz-86 GHz) ranges. National Telecom Operator (NTO) and Regional Public Infrastructure Provider (RPIP) licensees were eligible to participate in the auction.
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Airtel Uganda expressed its readiness to offer commercial 5G services as soon as the spectrum is awarded. The company had already announced the readiness of its core network for 5G back in February 2023.
According to the application submitted to the UCC, Airtel Uganda expressed interest in frequencies 700 MHz or 800 MHz (with a preference for the latter), 3500 MHz, and E-Band ranges.
According to Uganda Communication Commission (UCC), Spectrum awarded to Airtel Uganda is as below:
Low Band - Sub 1 GHz spectrum band
In the low band (800 MHz), Airtel Uganda secured two blocks of 2x5 MHz, enabling the company to utilize a total of 10 MHz of paired spectrum in the 800 MHz frequency division duplex (FDD) band, allowing the company to deliver coverage.
3500 MHz Band
Airtel Uganda acquired 100 MHz (1x100 MHz) of spectrum in the 3500 MHz time division duplex (TDD) band, allowing the company to leverage the immense potential of this frequency range for delivering high-speed connectivity to its customers.
In the E-band, Airtel Uganda obtained two blocks of 2x250 MHz FDD Spectrum, equating to 500 MHz of paired spectrum. The maximum assignable amount of spectrum per applicant in the E-band is two (2) blocks of 2x250 MHz usable in FDD mode.
This spectrum acquisition empowers Airtel Uganda to deploy a robust 5G network, catering to the growing demands of data-hungry applications and services.
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5G Deployment in Uganda
By securing the best available spectrum blocks required for 5G deployment, Airtel Uganda has positioned itself as a frontrunner in the race to deliver advanced broadband services across the country.
The UCC's spectrum sale process required that telecom companies have a comprehensive five-year rollout plan and should highlight the specific milestones, timelines, and indicators to measure progress for the realization of the proposed network and/or expansion.
Additionally, participating operators had to commit to reducing data costs by 2025, aiming to make mobile internet and fixed wireless internet more affordable for consumers.
With the acquisition of the radio frequency spectrum, Airtel Uganda is poised to lead the way in delivering 5G services and driving the digital transformation of Uganda's telecommunications landscape.