MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa has implored government to release spectrum in the 2.6GHz band, saying the move could cut the price of a 1GB data bundle to R50 overnight.
Motsa, who was speaking to an audience in Midrand on Thursday, said more needs to be done to speed up the allocation of the 2.6GHz band, which is well suited for delivering 4G/LTE mobile broadband services.
“One gigabyte of data can cost R50 tomorrow if the currently dormant 2.6GHz spectrum is released immediately,” he said.
He warned that the mobile industry “cannot continue to subsidise the spectrum crunch, which negatively impacts on the poorest members of society”.
He added that the democratisation of the Internet, which includes improved coverage, reduced prices, relevant digital content and enhanced customer experience, should not be the “sole burden of mobile operators”.
“We cannot do this alone. The implementation of a well-considered and reasonable policy and regulation framework is the stimulus that will ignite the further dynamic development of the South African telecommunications space,” Motsa said.
His remarks come in the same week that national treasury, in its medium-term budget policy statement, punted the idea of a spectrum auction to allocate scarce radio frequency spectrum, potentially putting finance minister Malusi Gigaba at odds with his colleague in telecommunications & postal services, Siyabonga Cwele.
In the statement, treasury said the delay in allocating spectrum has had the effect of constraining growth across the economy.
“Lack of radio frequency limits the ability of businesses to deploy new technologies and contributes to the high cost of broadband,” the statement said.
“A well-designed spectrum auction can promote transformation and improve competition as new participants enter the market. Universal service conditions can improve access for low-income households. And a competitive auction can sharply reduce data costs.”
Communications regulator Icasa is pushing ahead with plans to auction the spectrum, but Cwele is challenging this in court.
The telecoms minister does not favour a spectrum auction. Instead, he wants to reserve a big chunk of spectrum for a new wholesale open-access network, a plan that has been met with sharp criticism. — © 2017 NewsCentral Media