The National Communications Authority (NCA) has granted full nationwide authorization to Celltel, a wholly-owned Ghanaian company, to roll out a US$300 million Ghana Smart Cities Project.
The substantive authorization makes Celltel an Internet and Public Data Service Provider and comes after a provisional authorization earlier in the year.
In terms of scope, the NCA said, “Celltel Networks Limited whose shareholder is Kludjeson International Limited, is authorized to use 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz bands nationwide and VSAT Network Class 3 (1-49 terminals) nationwide to provide access to its clients.”
The authorization has a five-year expiration period, but Celltel would be required to commence operations within two years of getting a written greenlight note to start, or the authorization would be considered to have expired.
The company is also required to pay an annual fee on June 20 every year to keep the authorization active.
This clears the way for Celltel to roll out its Ghana Smart Cities project in collaboration with various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) across the country.
The project promises a nationwide Wi-Fi service that would come with Celltel-branded smart handheld, desktop and home devices for subscription.
The company has, for years now, been working with strategic partners to install infrastructure and manufacture devices to set the tone for the rollout of the Ghana Smart Cities Project.
It has so far installed some infrastructure in parts of the country and is currently piloting the live Wi-Fi service in those areas and had distributed Wi-Fi devices to several people across the country to test the efficacy of its service in preparation for a full roll out.
The company plans to collaborate with existing industry players by way of co-location and infrastructure sharing to reach a wider public with its affordable subscription Wi-Fi packages.
It also promises to provide specific solutions for health, education, security, religious and other institutions across the country, working with identifiable groups to provide tailor-made packages to suit their specific needs.
Executive Chairman of Celltel, Dr. Prince Kofi Kludjeson, said the company would roll out its Smart Cities nationwide Wi-Fi service, beginning with special packages for students and teachers across the country.
Dr. Kludjeson said the plan is to start with a “Support a Child” package that enables parents, MPs, Ministers, DCEs, corporate executives, chiefs, churches and NGOs to acquire Celltel packages for students and teachers in or from their communities and pay in instalments.
According to him, the march towards a digital economy cannot be done by the government alone so individuals and institutions can help to bridge the digital divide by supporting various categories of people, particularly students and teachers to get digitized.
“The various categories of people can acquire this package for as many students and teachers in their various communities,” he said. “Even Ghanaians in the Diaspora who are desirous of supporting students and teachers in their communities back home can get them a Celltel package.”