Technical hitches may delay implementation
GSMA writes African govts to secure digital future
By Prince Osuagwu
If the statistics of General System for Mobile communications Association, GSMA is anything to rely on, African countries stand a chance to rake in a cumulative 0.7 per cent of GDP growth in 2034, which may approximately amount to $5.2bn.
This economic expansion will be as a result of Innovative services that will be spurred by the latest generational technology.
However, GSMA says that this huge opportunity for Africa’s digital economy depends on the availability of necessary radio frequencies, including those known as ‘millimetre wave’ frequencies that will deliver ultra-high capacity and ultra-high-speed services.
GSMA added that Africa’s digital future depends on identification of 5G spectrum at the international treaty conference called the World Radio communication Conference 2019,WRC-19, which will take place in Egypt from 28 October to 22 November 2019
Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA, Akinwale Goodluck, said: “5G will be an evolutionary step with a revolutionary impact, having a deeper effect on our lives than any previous mobile generation. As mobile operators continue to expand 4G connections across the region, now is the time for African governments to lay the foundation for their 5G future by identifying the needed spectrum at WRC-19.”
The 5G opportunity for Sub-Saharan Africa
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the roll-out of mobile networks and services has allowed communities to leapfrog wired infrastructure and embrace the Information age much quicker and more cost effectively than in many developed countries. 5G is expected to building on earlier generations, to bring new capabilities and mobile innovations that will enable economic growth. Coupled with mmWave spectrum, 5G is expected to open up the potential for low-latency; data-intensive applications that are expected to transform a wide variety of industries and use cases. These will benefit new applications, helping the region’s transport logistics infrastructure, in-land transport hubs and seaports and extractive industries such as mining and hydrocarbon production, among others.
Enabling improvements to vital transport links in the economy, such as port logistics infrastructure, 5G will drive growth in the trade industry. 5G mmWave applications is said to have the capability to coordinate movement of goods and remote control of essential machinery, leading to more efficient port operations and lower costs, allowing for increased trade.
This is because 5G mmWave applications make extraction activities in mining and manufacturing more cost-effective and safer by leveraging high speed connectivity and remote object manipulation.
5G mmWave spectrum will be identified at the WRC-19 international treaty conference. 3000 delegates from over 190 nations will meet to agree on how spectrum may be used. European countries are determined to limit the use of this spectrum due to unfounded claims of potential interference with space services. Independent technical studies, supported by African countries and their allies in the Americas and the Middle East, have demonstrated that 5G can co-exist safely and efficiently alongside weather-sensing services, commercial satellite services and others.
Countries like Nigeria have indicated readiness to deploy 5G, at least from 2020. Nigeria has gone ahead to earmark three spectrum bands 26 GHz, 38GHz and 42GHz bands for trial in Lagos and other parts of the country.
Speaking at a collaborative meeting between NCC and GSMA in Abuja, to facilitate 5G policy and spectrum, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, said although the NCC was not ready at the moment, in terms of policy and regulations, it has however kick started processes and reserved three frequency bands to facilitate 5G roll out.
Battle for mmWave spectrum
Meanwhile, a GSMA report has raised serious concerns that, without adequate support at WRC-19, the deployment of these 5G services may be delayed for up to a decade. It is a technical claim that is also capable of delaying economic growth and innovation but GSMA urged Africa to stand strong and protect its interests and secure its digital future.
Goodluck said: “WRC-19 is the only opportunity for years to come for countries across Africa to secure mmWave spectrum for future use, enabling the delivery of 5G services over the next decade. Africa understands the need to strike the right balance between different users of spectrum. That is why African governments have actively supported technical studies that demonstrate how 5G can operate in these frequencies without causing harm to other existing spectrum services, including weather-sensing services, in neighbouring spectrum bands,” he added
Open letter to ministers and heads of regulation
The GSMA said on behalf of the global mobile industry, it has written open letter to ministers and heads of regulatory authorities in 170 countries globally, including Sub-Saharan Africa calling on their governments to support the identification of spectrum for mobile at WRC-19 in an open letter sent to ministers