Map of East Africa

Partner States of the East Africa Community (EAC) have agreed to complete cross-border frequency coordination by the end of 2018, according to an official.

Ally Simba, Executive Secretary of East African Communications Organization (EACO), told journalists in Nairobi that that people living in the border areas in the region have for long suffered forced roaming as a result of cross-border mobile network interference.

He said that this has resulted in those residents paying high roaming charges to access mobile telecommunications services.

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Speaking during the 25th EACO meeting of assemblies, Simba said cross-border frequency coordination for mobile services has been done in 90 per cent of the borders and the verification exercise by the regulators is ongoing.

He said that the aim of the coordination exercise is to reduce forced roaming so that users are able to connect to their home networks without interference from the neighboring country’s networks.

The official said that cross-border frequency coordination for broadcasting services has also commenced and the work of implementing the cross-border framework for broadcasting should be complete by the end of the year.

The EAC member states and private ICT firms in the region have in the past initiated projects that are not only fostering integration among people but have also lowered the cost of doing business in the region.

Officials at the meeting observed that the One Network Area roaming initiative that currently includes Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan has significantly reduced the high cost of mobile roaming.

Tanzania and Burundi are set to join the initiative by the end of the year so that all calls within the trading bloc are treated as local calls. The One Network Area has been a success in respect to voice services; a lot still remains to be done in the area of data services.

EACO comprises members from the communications national regulatory agencies, postal, telecoms, broadcasting, and internet service providers from all the six partner states of the EAC.