MTN SA wants access to the spectrum that will be freed up through the move from analogue to digital terrestrial television sooner than the December 2013 deadline set down for the completion of digital migration.
Now, its MD, Karel Pienaar, has cheekily offered MTN’s assistance to broadcasters to hurry the process along.
Spectrum in the 800MHz band will be freed up for telecommunications services when broadcasters switch to more “spectrally efficient” digital technologies. Broadcasters are fretting privately that the December 2013 deadline, set by the department of communications, does not allow sufficient time to complete the migration to digital.
But Pienaar disagrees. “We should look at moving up the timescales as quickly as possible,” he says. “Waiting for 2013 is frustrating and we need to get this done as early as possible.”
Operators, including MTN and Vodacom, are keen to get access to the 800MHz band to begin offering the next generation of wireless broadband services based on long-term evolution technology. The band offers a number of distinct advantages over other bands, especially in providing coverage in rural areas.
“We are happy to come and assist the broadcasters,” Pienaar says. “The sooner the spectrum is available and investments are made, the sooner we can keep up with the rest of the world in having modern, first-world infrastructure in place.”
Pienaar also wants big telecoms operators to get preferential access to the spectrum. He says it’s only companies with deep pockets and extensive skills that can build national networks that serve both urban and rural areas. “There’s no point in having someone skimming cream in the dense urban areas. That will put investment in rural areas under threat.” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral