MTN is prepared to open its mobile network on a wholesale basis to competitors, but can only consider doing so once government has issued it with additional radio frequency spectrum.
MTN South Africa MD Mteto Nyati said in an interview with TechCentral on Wednesday that the company “won’t necessarily” voluntarily open its network to third parties, but may be required to do so as part of government’s policy on allocating new spectrum resources to mobile operators.
Government may require big operators like MTN to provide access to their wireless networks on an open-access basis, he said.
“There may be conditions [imposed]on strong players like ourselves to go in that direction,” he said. “It may not be something that comes from us naturally.”
He said the idea of providing wholesale, open access to MTN’s network is “something that continues to come up in discussions” with policy makers. “As long as there is no fixing of prices by the regulator, we don’t have a challenge around that. This is already happening in mature markets.”
But, he said, it can’t happen until new spectrum is allocated because MTN simply doesn’t have the capacity at the moment to cope with additional strains on its network.
The company has already been forced to “refarm”, or reallocate, a lot of its existing spectrum to cope with the shortage of capacity, particularly for providing data services, where demand is rising fast.
“Anything that will negatively impact on that is not something we will do. Once we have the spectrum, it’s a different game completely,” Nyati said.
The MTN boss welcomed remarks on Tuesday by Pakamile Pongwana, the CEO of communications regulator Icasa, about how he wants to move the industry forward on spectrum issues. “He gets it that the industry needs to move forward and he has our full support,” Nyati said. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media