By Emeka Aginam
The planned auctioning of the 2.6 GHz spectrum by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, is expected to support a successful 4G roll-out in Nigeria, the Director of Africa, GSMA , Mortimer Hope has said.
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.
It would be recalled that after several postponement for the auction of the 2.6 GHz spectrum by the government, NCC recently had informed parties interested in participating in the auction of frequency spectrum licences in the 2.6GHz band that the process of the auction has resumed.
Stating that the spectrum auction is key to affordable mobile services, Hope in an interview with Vanguard yesterday said that since the first 4G network was launched, the 2.6 GHz band has played a key role in the roll-out of 4G networks around the world.
As the NCC resumes the 2.6 GHz spectrum auction process, he expressed hope that there will no more obstacles, adding that the band would pave the way for faster networks and more affordable smartphones for its citizens.
“Today it is the second most used band (after the 1,800 MHz band) when counting the number of networks and number of available devices.
The popularity of a band and the scale that comes with it is important because it helps lower the cost of devices.
“4G smartphones are still more expensive than their 3G counterparts, but prices are steadily dropping.
“Assuming operators are allowed to obtain at least 2 x 20 MHz of bandwidth (as they are in many parts of the world), the band can also improve network performance, offer faster data transmissions and greater capacity.
“Nigerian mobile subscribers should benefit from a higher quality viewing experience of Nollywood movies and popular video content, from the likes of Ndani.tv and Channels Television, directly on their smartphones”, he explained.
According to to him, the challenge with the spectrum is that the band is not suited to providing widespread coverage.
“For a mobile operator to be able to offer great speeds as well as coverage it has to be combined with frequencies below 1 GHz, he said.
“For example, the 700 MHz band is gaining momentum and is proving to be a good companion to the 2.6 GHz band.
The same goes for 800 MHz.
“Operators that have been allowed to obtain licenses in two or more of these bands can combine them with a technology called “carrier aggregation” to offer high speeds. That might seem far-fetched, but the feature is also making its way onto low-cost smartphones”, he further explained.