Free participated in the public call for applications launched on May 31 by the ARTP for the allocation of 5G licenses. The company’s offer of 3 billion FCFA was rejected for non-compliance. The reserve price was set at 19.5 billion FCFA.

Senegalese telecoms company Saga Africa Holdings Limited (Free) has extended its operating license to include fifth generation (5G) mobile technology. The operator acquired 90 MHz of frequencies in the 3,500 MHz band for 13.5 billion CFA francs (22.4 million USD). This was revealed by the Telecommunications and Postal Regulatory Authority (ARTP), in a press release published on Monday, December 18.

Free becomes the second Senegalese telecoms operator to acquire the 5G license. Its rival Sonatel acquired the resource last July for $34.5 million following a process launched in May by the ARTP. Free participated in the public call for applications, but its offer of 3 billion FCFA was rejected for non-compliance, as was that of 2 billion FCFA submitted by Expresso Senegal. The reserve price was set at 19.5 billion FCFA.

“  However, given the importance of this technology for operators, Saga Africa Holdings Limited subsequently expressed its willingness to take on 5G. This is how the said operator concluded an amendment to the concession agreement with the State of Senegal  ,” explains the regulator.

With its 5G license in hand, Free can now launch commercial 5G in Senegal. The mobile operator had already launched an experimental phase of ultra-high speed from June 2022 with technical support from the Swedish company Ericsson .

The commercial launch of 5G should notably allow Free to help meet the growing demand from Senegalese consumers for high-speed connectivity. This should also make it possible to attract new subscribers and strengthen its competitiveness in the national telecoms market dominated by Sonatel.

According to the latest ARTP data, Free had 5.36 million mobile subscribers for a market share of 24.47% in the second quarter of 2023. Its main competitors Orange (Sonatel) and Expresso respectively control 56, 23% and 17.02 of the national mobile telephone subscriber base. When it comes to the Internet, the company had a market share of 24.05%.

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