As Ghana marches towards a complete digital economy, a wholly-owned Ghanaian company, Celltel Networks Limited has been granted full nationwide authorization by the National Communications Authority (NCA) to roll out its much-touted US$300 million Ghana Smart Cities Project.
The substantive authorization makes Celltel an Internet and Public Data Service Provider. It comes after a provisional authorization granted the company 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.
This clears the way for Celltel to roll out its long-awaited Ghana Smart Cities project in collaboration with various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) across the length and breadth of 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 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.
Celltel is also required to pay annual fee on June 20 every year to keep the authorization active.
Meanwhile, ahead of the authorization, Celltel 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.
Celltel has distributed Wi-Fi devices to several people across the country to test the efficacy of its service in preparation for a full rollout sooner than later.
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.
Support a Child
Executive Chairman of Celltel, Dr. Prince Kofi Kludjeson has been telling TechGH24 the company is set to start the rollout of its Smart Cities nationwide Wi-Fi service beginning with special packages for students and teachers across the country.
On the back of a device assembling plant deal it signed with Chinese device manufacturer, Haitech, Celltel will have its KQ and Celltel branded devices such as laptops, Mi-Fi routers, tablets, desktop computers and smart TV sets for the market with Wi-Fi connectivity.
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, it is Celltel’s considered view that in the march towards a digital economy, government alone cannot bring everybody along, so individuals and institutions can help to bridge the digital divide by supporting various categories of people, particularly students and teachers to get digitized.
He explained that the “Support a Child” package comprises of a high-end KQ i7 laptop or KQ Tablet, and a portable Celltel Mi-Fi router loaded with unlimited data bundle to be paid for in instalments over a period of 48 months.
“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.”
Dr. Kludjeson, who was a two-time past President of Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and current President of the Volta Development Forum (VDF), said the devices that come with the students’ package are preloaded with educational apps and software for the benefit of the various categories of students and teachers.
Meanwhile, Celltel is already in the process of connecting several churches, educational institutions, professional groups and some private and government institutions to its nationwide Wi-Fi network.
The network is currently active but yet to go commercial, as several institutions and groups have already started booking their places for subscription packages, to be paid for in instalments over a period of 48 months.
The packages would come with mobile handsets, laptops, smart TV sets of various sizes, all the way to 65 inches, and the amount to be paid monthly, would depend on what device one chooses along with the Wi-Fi connectivity.
Dr. Kludjeson said the added advantage is that the Celltel router is also a fast-charging power bank, and it comes in sizes with some having as high as 10,000Amps battery power.
“Currently the leaders of various churches and other institutions across the country have been given samples of the Celltel Mi-Fi routers to try in the communities and the feedback shows that it is working well and we are ready to fly,” he said.
Data Centre/Assembling Plant
He stated that Celltel intends to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to position Ghana as Smart Cities connectivity hub for Africa, riding on the back of Celltel’s upcoming state-of-the-art Regional Data Centre designed and built by Cisco Networks.
According to Dr. Kludjeson, a major factory, which is currently under construction in Ghana, will be the first state-of-the-art technology factory to be built in Ghana to produce devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart TVs powered by Google with their voice messaging, Google Assist and over 5000 channels in partnership with Haitech of China.
He said Celltel is also poised to deploy Facebook Express Wi-Fi services in all of its footprints in Ghana and Africa.