CA launches new system to monitor and manage frequencies in Central, Eastern and Northern Kenya

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has launched a new system to monitor and manage frequencies within the Central, Eastern and Northern Kenya regions.

The Spectrum Management and Monitoring System (SMMS) is expected to greatly enhance service delivery by reducing the time taken to process radio spectrum licences as well as that of resolving radio interference complaints.

It is the culmination of a process which begun in May 2019 when a Kenyan firm, Broadband Communication Network, in conjunction with Rohde and Schwarz Company from Germany, were awarded a Kshs 500 million contract to upgrade the old system that has been in place for the last 5 years.

(TOP: ICT CS Joe Mucheru – second right – cuts the tape to unveil the new Spectrum Monitoring and Management System – SMMS – in Nyeri recently. With him are Nyeri Governor, Mutahi Kahiga, – left , CA Chairman Senator Kembi Gitura and Broadcasting and Telecommunications PS Esther Koimett – right).

The new system becomes the fourth since the regulator was established in 1999. ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joe Mucheru lauded the milestone, saying that radio spectrum is a scarce natural resource that must be managed prudently for the benefit of Kenyans.

“The rising demand for spectrum constantly calls for the need to manage the scarce resource through efficient planning, licensing and monitoring.

The upgraded spectrum monitoring and management system will enable the Authority to resolve interference cases when they arise as well as identify transmissions that do not conform to the stablished standards,” Mr. Mucheru said during the launch in Nyeri.

In the financial year ended June 2021, the Authority received 45 frequency interference cases, out of which 35 were fully resolved.

Mr. Mucheru said that his Ministry in collaboration with the CA , is working  on a new framework on frequency transfers to ensure there is order in the manner in which this scarce resource is being utilized, specifically in cases of changes in ownership.

The absence of a proper framework, he noted, has witnessed the proliferation of briefcase investors, who acquire frequency spectrum but instead of exploiting it for the intended use, they instead sell them to the highest bidders in the market.

“This not only distorts the market structure, but also makes it difficult for genuine investors to have access to this important, yet scarce public resource,” Mucheru added.

Apart from being an integrated tool for spectrum planning, technical analysis, cross-border coordination, CA Board Chairman Sen. Kembi Gitura said the new system will bring down the cost of getting licences.

“With its web-based licence application feature, the cost of entry and doing business in the ICT sector will reduce. Investors will no longer have to travel to CA offices to apply for licences,” said Gitura.

The Authority’s Ag. Director General, Mrs. Mercy Wanjau said through this upgrade, CA expects to improve service delivery to its spectrum users and stakeholders through effective planning, efficient processing of radio spectrum application licenses and faster resolution of interference complaints.

She observed that systems for licensing, coordination, notification and billing have changed and new players with unique needs have come up. The new system is expected to offer timely response to illegal connections.

“With the Nyeri site, we now have a total of 11 such sites in the country, spread in Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu, Kitale, Garissa, Mombasa, Mazeras and Eldoret,” Mrs. Wanjau said.

To complement these sites, the Authority has also deployed four mobile monitoring stations aboard vehicles, which undertake routine spectrum monitoring across the country.

Radio frequency monitoring is undertaken to identify and locate of known or unauthorized emissions; identify and locate sources of interference; identify radio emissions that do not conform to license conditions; obtain detailed information on the technical or operational characteristics of radio systems; resolve interference when they arise; as well as determining frequencies experiencing congestion or coordination problems.

A robust radio frequency monitoring system promotes compliance to radio license conditions, faster response and resolution of interference, enhances consumer protection and ensures orderly development and deployment of radio communication systems and services


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