BY EMEKA AGINAM
The Director, Spect-rum and Public Policy Africa, for Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA), Mortimer Hope has said that opportunities in digital age can only be realised if Nigerian government acts now to allocate more spectrum for mobile to meet rising consumer demand and support the development of new mobile services in the longer term.
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors.
Common position on mobile broadband
While urging African governments to take a common position to increase mobile broadband spectrum availability in order to address the high cost of spectrum licence in Nigeria the rest of the African nations, Hope who was in Nigeria recently for the African Telecommunications Union’s third preparatory meeting for the International Telecoms Union (ITU) World Radio Communication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) told Vanguard in an interview that new spectrum for mobile broadband is vital to boost economic growth in the country.
Cost of spectrum still high:
Calling on the African governments to speak with one voice and collectively agree on the need to increase mobile internet spectrum for Africa, he observed that cost of spectrum licences in Nigeria and the rest of the African continent is still high as a result of limited spectrum band for the continent.
Efficient spectrum use:
Pointing out that broadband connectivity could be a driver of socio-economic development, he said that , “ The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, should ensure that spectrum is efficiently utilized by the operators. Nigeria has a large population of GSM and CDMA subscribers, with operators trying to satisfy customers with the limited spectrum licences that they have. Because the demand for mobile services is on the increase in Nigeria and across Africa, GSMA is of the view that there is need for government and regulatory authorities to allocate more spectrum to the operators, to meet the demands, and we have identified four spectrum areas that could address this,”
Noting that the issue of spectrum licences remained a national matter that needed urgent intervention , he said that high cost of spectrum is affecting productivity and cost of services by operators who have invested so much in spectrum licence .
Economic assessment of C-band reallocation
Speaking on the new report prepared by GSMA on Economic assessment of C-band reallocation in Africa, he said that based on the estimates of net-benefits of C-band reallocation, GSMA produced high level estimates of the impact on government income and taxes.
“We estimate that revenue to the governments in Africa through taxation and the auction of
licenses would be over PPP $13 billion”
While more efficient use of the current spectrum can deliver some of the capacity, he said that it is likely that the rest would need to be delivered by reallocating spectrum to mobile use.
He explained that C-band spectrum (3.4-4.2GHz) appears to be well suited to provide additional capacity in urban areas, and could help alleviate this expected spectrum scarcity.
“Africa uses a significant proportion of C-band spectrum to provide various satellite-based services, including TV distribution.5 Terrestrial TV is distributed to broadcast towers using C-band. TV networks and mobile operators are likely to have earth stations operating in C-band, and these are used as hubs for TV contribution and distribution, and global connectivity.6 VSAT-based applications”, he explained.
According to the report, access to C-band spectrum for mobile services will decrease marginal costs for mobile operators, leading to lower prices for mobile broadband in Africa.