How spectrum acquisition improves network quality

TANZANIA Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) released additional frequencies for auction last year in the 700MHz, 2300MHz, 2600MHz and 3500MHz bands.

The government was able to generate USD 187.5 million in revenue from telecom companies that bid on the spectrum.

The spectrum auction created a lot of buzz in the media and technology business community with customers wondering why such development is so important, considering that the available networks already meet their needs for communication and browsing.

Spectrum refers to the invisible radio frequencies that wireless signals travel over. Those signals are what enable us to make calls from our mobile devices, tag our friends on Instagram, order a ride on Paisha, pull up directions to a destination, and do everything on our mobile devices.

Its distribution and availability are crucial for the country’s economic development agenda and for the achievement of the National ICT Policy.

Spectrum is a scarce resource and with over 5 operators it’s easy for spectrum to get congested. Tanzania boasts millions of mobile subscribers and internet users, so Telcos cannot always meet the demands of ever-growing customers and services usage without additional spectrum.

Tanzania has set targets to increase availability, penetration and use of telecommunications services, making spectrum availability crucial to the mobile industry.

Vodacom Tanzania, one of the companies that participated in the spectrum auction acquired blocks in the 700MHz, 2300MHz and 2600MHz bands. Since the acquisition, the leading technology communication company has been busy developing its acquired spectrum.

“We immediately started deployment of the acquired spectrum, by expanding bandwidth of L700 congested sites to get additional capacity to carry 4G traffic and reduce congestion in areas where customers were complaining. This means our customers are now able to enjoy an improved internet experience,” said David Nnyari the Radio Planning Manager at Vodacom Tanzania.

According to David, the company is deploying the 700MHz spectrum countrywide with an aim to improve internet experience and browsing speeds while they deploy 4G on the 2300MHz spectrum in major towns to ease congestion with a target to complete the expansion by the end of February.

“We intend to effectively use all the 700Mhz, 2300MHz and 2600Mhz spectrum blocks that we acquired to contribute to the country’s mobile broadband infrastructure, meet the ever-increasing demand for data services and accelerate our vision to digitize Tanzania. Our customers can certainly expect improved voice and data experience,” he added.

One customer, Pauline John a resident of Kibada, Kigamboni said they have seen improved internet experience and browsing speeds in the past months which for her translates to efficiency in her business.

“We have been having network issues in Kigamboni since I moved here in 2015, connecting to the internet is an issue, the speed was so slow, and the buffering was frustrating. We had complained to our service provider a lot and they would try this and that, but the situation remained the same,” narrates Pauline.

The lake zone is one of the areas that has benefitted from the 2300MHz spectrum which has been deployed by Vodacom Tanzania in metro towns. Customer experience in the region was reportedly marred by complaints due to lags & buffers in internet use and call congestion, especially at night when there is high data utilization.

“Thanks to the spectrum available to us, we have done some major site upgrades from 2G to 4G and our customers are enjoying improved data and voice. We have seen double-digit traffic growth for 4G and speed tests indicate satisfactory speeds for the customers in towns like Kigoma, Kahama, Geita and the little isles such as Ukara” said David Nnyari, the Radio Planning Manager at Vodacom Tanzania

Nono Umulisa, a customer in Masumbwe, Kahama says she is happy that her service provider has improved their mobile data service and that she has even upgraded her smartphone following the improvement in network quality.

“We are now enjoying being online 24/7 which was not the case previously. I mainly use the internet for business purposes to contact customers and receive orders and I am also doing my studies online so I can honestly say that I have seen an improved experience in terms of internet speed, stability and quality of voice” she said.

The TCRA revisited allocation of 3500 MHz band and Vodacom was allocated contiguous band from its existing band which was previously in small discrete bands allocation. The new allocated contiguous band meets minimum requirement for activation of 5G Technology and

Vodacom went ahead to modernize its Fixed Service 4G Network by upgrading it to 5G Network.

Vodacom launched Tanzania’s first 5G networks in September 2022, planning to deploy over 226 sites across Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Dodoma and 13 other regions.

5G Technology provides better user experience compared to previous networks. The technology provides high speeds and ultra-low latency which are critical requirements for services like remote machines connectivity and control and remote health systems diagnosis just to mention a few.  This positions our country at a competitive advantage in the 4th Industrial Revolution drive.

In another development, Vodacom Tanzania PLC has deployed 5G in Zanzibar, which went live on 12th February, the fastest network is now available in Zanzibar urban as part and parcel of the company’s strategy to expand in the Isles.

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