MTN South Africa has expressed concern about government’s plans for allocating new spectrum for 4G/LTE networks, saying the wrong policy risks undermining one of the few sectors in South Africa that is performing relatively well.
Government has hinted strongly that it will make spectrum available on a wholesale open-access basis to encourage new competition in South Africa’s wireless broadband industry. Its integrated ICT policy white paper, which will deal with spectrum allocation, is expected to be published soon, providing the guidance needed for communications regulator Icasa to issue licences.
Both MTN and Vodacom are keen for a spectrum auction of some kind, with the winners getting access to exclusive chunks of spectrum in the digital dividend bands below 850MHz and in bands above 2,5GHz to expand broadband infrastructure in both rural and urban areas.
MTN South Africa CEO Mteto Nyati said at a media briefing in Sandton on Thursday that spectrum is not being used effectively.
Some 98% of mobile subscribers are served by just 40% of allocated spectrum, which is “exerting a constricting pressure on the networks that are built on frequencies that are not suitable for data intensive applications”, Nyati said.
“The rapid adoption of smart devices, which complements government’s vision of bridging the digital divide and universal access to broadband services, has increased traffic on our networks substantially, and has rendered access to spectrum more urgent,” said Nyati.
He added that the growth of data-intensive services such as video is exacerbating traffic and adding pressure on the already clogged networks.
“The re-farming of existing spectrum to cater for LTE technology is an interim measure, as access to the high-demand spectrum is the prerequisite for the provision of high performance networks and seamless network experience,” said Nyati. — © 2016 NewsCentral Media