Firm loses bid for Safaricom frequencies

A local telecommunications equipment supplier has lost a bid to reclaim broadband frequencies issued to Safaricom for rollout of the Sh14.9 billion national police surveillance system.

Tetra Radio Ltd lost the appeal case filed against it by the industry regulator Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) after the Court of Appeal quashed High Court orders issued in June 2011 that had granted the telecom firm’s claim to the frequencies.

A three-judge bench composed of Festus Azangalala, Erastus Githinji and John Mwera on September 25 ruled that Tetra Radio had failed to satisfy the court that there was in fact a license issued to them.

The court also ruled that the High Court exceeded its powers in its ruling. Tetra was ordered to pay costs of the appeal as well as the costs incurred in defending the High Court suit.

“This appeal is allowed, we set aside all orders issued by the trial court on June 24 2011,” reads part of the ruling.

The High Court had ordered the regulator to release the contracted and reserved bandwidth in the range of 370MHz to 470MHz (both inclusive) to the exclusive and sole use by Tetra together with additional broadband spectrum bandwidth in the 2.3-2.5GHz range.

This prompted the CA to move to the Court of Appeal seeking a reversal of the orders.

READ: Firm claims Sh15bn Safaricom police deal

This part of the frequency spectrum is what Safaricom was allocated by the CA to rollout the Sh14.9 billion national police surveillance system in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Tetra Radio alleged that it was awarded a similar contract in 2001 for the building, operation and provision of a communications system for the Kenya Police, and argued that its deal with the government is still valid.

“The trial court usurped the power of the appellant (the CA) not only to direct how the licence could be paid, and we have found out that there was no licence issued, but also to order the appellant to release frequency including those not tendered for. All in all, this fell outside the court’s function,” the Appellate court ruled.