The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) hopes SA operators will emulate the Russian model of infrastructure sharing for next-generation mobile broadband networks based on long-term evolution (LTE) technology, TechCentral has learnt.
LTE, which will pave the way to fourth-generation (4G) mobile systems, promises speeds well in excess of what’s available through current 3G technologies.
At a media briefing on Wednesday, Icasa said it would make one “package” of spectrum available, consisting of two blocks in the 800MHz and 2,6GHz frequency bands, to a network licensee but only on “wholesale open-access conditions”. This wholesaler may not offer retail services to consumers.
The only other spectrum “packages” on offer will go to operators that do not already have access to any mobile cellular spectrum, which excludes all of the incumbent operators — Telkom, Vodacom, MTN and Cell C. It’s clear, then, that Icasa wants the operators to work together to build a wholesale network and to compete on services. The authority’s proposals may leave them no other choice than to work together.
In March, Russian operator Yota reached an agreement with the country’s four main telecommunications operators, including Beeline (Vimpelcom), Megafon, Rostelecom and MTS, in terms of which the company will be the single LTE network provider. The plan enjoys the backing of prime minister Vladimir Putin.
Website Global Telecoms Business reported earlier this year that the deal would result in Yota building an LTE network across 180 Russian cities by 2014, serving more than 70m people. This would allow participating operators to offer services at a “fraction of the investment required for individual network builds”. The operators will have the opportunity to buy stakes in Yota.
Infrastructure and spectrum sharing is seen as a more affordable way of delivering next-generation services as it obviates the need for the construction of multiple networks, which results in higher costs for operators and higher tariffs for consumers. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral
- Image: World Economic Forum
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