This is why SA networks need spectrum now

Origin248

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It would be nice to see the government sell/allocate the spectrum so that we finally have real 4G and 4G+, but I'm also a bit curious which frequency will they be allocating since it would really suck if I have to get a new phone in order to get LTE.
 

Swa

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The question is why are a lot of Vodacom et al's spectrum unused?
 

Paul Hjul

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There is not a drop of unused or undercapitalized VC spectrum
Telkom returned unused spectrum - its arguable that Telkom has undercapitalized spectrum but not in the high demand section (with the RAN deal with MTN)

CellC is arguably undercapitalized as a whole so not specifically with spectrum and VC is more capitalized (towers installed etc ...) to use spectrum than CellC or MTN

Neotel could arguably be accused of not adequately utilizing their spectrum at one hell of a push

The real unuse of spectrum is spectrum not being allocated
 

dominic

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The question is why are a lot of Vodacom et al's spectrum unused?
might not be used optimally but certainly the MNOs are the most efficient users of assigned spectrum in SA on a person per MHz assigned basis
 

Swa

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There is not a drop of unused or undercapitalized VC spectrum
Really? Sure if you count their spectrum as a whole it would be used in some area or other but apart from that there would be a lot of unused spectrum in every area. From my experience it would seem Cell C's spectrum is the most saturated of all the networks. It should be with their cheap large data packages. Also their packages that favour night time data usage. Where's Vodacom's similar packages to try take advantage of that? If any spectrum needs to be awarded it should be to the companies that made the biggest difference for broadband users with their existing spectrum - Cell C and Talkom.
 

Paul Hjul

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Really? Sure if you count their spectrum as a whole it would be used in some area or other but apart from that there would be a lot of unused spectrum in every area. From my experience it would seem Cell C's spectrum is the most saturated of all the networks. It should be with their cheap large data packages. Also their packages that favour night time data usage. Where's Vodacom's similar packages to try take advantage of that? If any spectrum needs to be awarded it should be to the companies that made the biggest difference for broadband users with their existing spectrum - Cell C and Talkom.
You've clearly got things backwards - CellC's network is the most saturated because they are undercapitalized

Vodacom, MTN, CellC have the same amount of spectrum in one of the blocks of high demand. Yet VC serves an order of magnitude more data through the same spectrum - ergo highly used
 

Paul Hjul

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So who will get it?

You want to auction it off?
The Neotel transaction provides insight into a possible model that could allow government to get what it really wants while opening up spectrum ...
 

Swa

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So who will get it?

You want to auction it off?
The issue has been discussed ad nauseam. One of the possible solutions is to assign it to local operators or to keep it unassigned to a specific entity like wifi. Another solution was a wholesaler that would lease infrastructure to other operators. But knowing Icasa they most likely won't do this and follow the money path instead.

You've clearly got things backwards - CellC's network is the most saturated because they are undercapitalized

Vodacom, MTN, CellC have the same amount of spectrum in one of the blocks of high demand. Yet VC serves an order of magnitude more data through the same spectrum - ergo highly used
We are clearly using different metrics here. Saturation is the extent to which the available spectrum is used to carry data. Vodacom hasn't been the most efficient here and has instead tried to make the most money off of it.
 

MickeyD

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The issue has been discussed ad nauseam. One of the possible solutions is to assign it to local operators or to keep it unassigned to a specific entity like wifi. Another solution was a wholesaler that would lease infrastructure to other operators. But knowing Icasa they most likely won't do this and follow the money path instead.
No. Just plain NO.

EDIT: need to qualify my reply... that is if you are referring to the "TV Spectrum"
 
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Geoff.D

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What is a racing certainty, is that there are many factors affecting the utilisation of the already allocated spectrum for mobile use.

The bands are available in the TOFA (Table of Frequency Allocations) as published by ICASA. The Assignment of the bands to operators is fouled up , especially in the bands available for LTE.

The re-farming of existing spectrum already assigned to operators is fouled up by a slow process to shut down the older technologies -- operators claim that the "market", (I.e. us users) do not want to move away from the older services supported by the original GSM technologies, which is preventing them from "re-farming" the bands used for GSM, 1G, 2G etc.).

The next issue is the slow processes to get approval to improve the utilisation of spectrum.

One of the ways to do this is to reduce the cell sizes by increasing the number of base stations in high usage areas. The process is bogged down in red tape to get approval to build new masts, and that in turn is caused by many things such as broken local authority processes and endless objections from the public!
Another related aspect of the deployment of more base stations is the requirement for high capacity optic fibre networks to serve these new base stations. ALL the operators are playing cat and mouse with each other and us, not wanting to co-operate on the roll out of the infrastructure, which causes the local authorities to baulk and hold up the approval of way leaves for laying of the cables. The Property Industry also does not co-operate by making it exceedingly difficult for those prepared to do the work to lay the cable access required ("access build") by trying to charge ridiculous amounts from the operators for the right to undertake the required access builds. In fact the Property Industry should be obliged by Law as is the case in other countries, to undertake the duct builds as part of their development plans. Then when an operator does do the build required, that operator refuses to share the build with his competitors!

So WE should be putting pressure on ALL these role players everywhere to get them moving! We should be taking a keen interest in the development plans of that new mall down the road. We should be getting much more involved in what is going on around us and not just sit on forums such as these and moan! We should be pressurising SANRAL to stop their nonsense with the right to lay cables along their roads,. etc, etc!

Next comes the re-capitalisation and replacement of older technologies and equipment which is designed to improve spectrum utilisation.

So it is not so easy to generalise and place the blame on any one entity. It requires a concerted effort and a co-ordinated approach from ALL those involved INCLUDING the users! There just isn't enough public debate around these matters. The information that should be in the public domain is not available, and as a result we all get led around by the nose by the incumbents and the establishment , not being able to make meaningful contributions when required, and worse, not being able to apply public pressure to get things moving!

And yes, the DTT migration process has not helped at all either! In three ways ---

One is no one can even start (so the claim goes) with plans to make use of the digital dividend until the DTT migration has been completed. This is a complete fallacy as ALL the technical info required is available and we can learn from the experiences of others

Next is to start with having the debates and getting all the processes sorted out so that the released spectrum can be re-assigned as soon as the DTT process is completed. Yet very little (read nothing), has been done to prepare for the re-assignment of the spectrum.

Next is the belief that there just isn't the technical capacity in the country and in ICASA to attend to all of these things simultaneously. Yet there are plenty of persons available with all the technical know how to be able to do this work!

If one checks on how slow things do go in SA (ICASA, DTPS), consider this:
ICASA just last month published the last changes to the TOFA as a result of the decisions taken at the last WRC conference . Yet the World is already debating the agendas for the next WRC2015 in November! So the country just spends its efforts on staying in line with the ITU regulations, and never gets to the task of allowing spectrum to be used according to the ITU radio Regulations which are revised at every single WRC conference ( these take place every 3 - 4 years).
 
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Paul Hjul

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@daniellgr I am not sure I understand your argument

There is a constant upgrade of technologies with a need to manage the migration of spectrum from less efficient to more efficient means. Analogue use of spectrum has largely been kept in the field not because of users but because of signal distributors.

So the largest "hog" of spectrum that needs to be refarmed is analogue broadcast signals. So adjusting users there requires simple switching off of analogue broadcast signals and resorting to DVB-S2 however to get users to adopt DVB-S2 we have to can the pit that at Sentech and get STBs rolled out quickly
 

Geoff.D

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Thanks for the response. I was getting worried that no one seems to be on the same planet as me!

My argument was in the main aimed at the migration of services from older Mobile Technologies (GSM, etc.), where the greatest spectrum need exists.

In the Broadcasting domain, way back in the preparations for WRC 2000 ( yes more than 15 years ago) the first papers and studies dealing with "digital terrestrial broadcasting" showed the huge advantages that would be gained from the conversion. But like all things that involve entrenched industries, there was first total resistance, then grudging acceptance, then concerted efforts from incumbents all over the world baulking at the re-capitalisations costs involved, and then finally acceptance of a process to achieve the migration, which in SA led to the SA Administration committing to a switch-off date of June 2015 for analogue broadcasts.

We all know where we stand on this aspect. We will be lucky if it is completed within the next 5 years, even though the Minister again today promised 18 - 24 months to completion.

There were many competing digital technologies at the time. SA chose originally to go for the Region 1 option of DVB T1, and because of the slow process involved and the many political challenges to this decision, we ended up with DVB - T2. In the end some of the delays were actually in our favour, but mostly to our detriment.

Broadcasting just like any other Industry wants to retain access to its allocations, and is prepared to introduce newer technologies and undertake the conversion, if only the politicians will get out of the way.

The other argument that is raging is the one related to broadcasting as an Industry. The argument goes, "has broadcasting still have a role to play in the future?" Is there any place for one-way communications in a World dominated by the Internet? This argument is the one favoured by those that want to use the released spectrum (the Digital Dividend) for other purposes. The broadcasters are saying they do have a future role to play and that they should be given the freedom to retain allocated spectrum for broadcasting based on the own assessments of future requirements to meet the demands for future services.

The second argument that started way back in 2000, was "why don't we skip this terrestrial step and simply converted ALL broadcasting to satellite and be done with it"!

In SA the plan is for 7 multiplexes, and the spectrum requirements have been determined accordingly. In Kenya, where the DTT migration is virtually complete, they have as many as 12 multiplexes now in service already, showing that in Kenya , there is a huge demand for broadcasting services. So the broadcasting Industry players in SA are starting to say, "what will happen after the DTT process is completed, and the demand for more services increases, where will we get spectrum if the released spectrum has in the meantime been allocated to other services such as IMT?"

Sentech has been ready for years, first based on the DVB - T standard, and then changed to DVB -T2 and still none of the capacity is being utilised, while the politicians fight over the spoils to be had from dubious plans to manufacture STBs locally. Some of the deployed transmitters are already reaching a point where they may have to be replaced before any services were delivered using them!

BTW, DVB has three sets of standards, all adhering to the basic standard, but each optimised, depending on the media used.

DVB-C - over coaxial cable broadcasting networks, of which almost nothing ever existed in South Africa;
DVB-S - over Satellite, where most of the developments around DVB, MPEG etc have been done and where the next generation DVB-S2 happened many years ago already ( but only very recently used in SA), and;
DVB-T - over terrestrial radio , which is the hot topic at the moment.

PS" How many out there know the whole history of the development of DVB, MPEG etc? How many are aware of the key role SA ( Multichoice, Orbicom) played in the development of these standards?? SA has always been in the forefront of adopting and developing new technologies. It is since 1994 that we have started to slip further and further back in the implementation and use of new technologies to the point where just about every other African country has now overtaken us??
 

Paul Hjul

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well DVB-S2 was used by TopTV since inception ...
the usage case for DVB-S2 as the only subsidized broadcast spectrum* usage has been in play for 5 years or so - and ties well into SAs obligations to the SKA project.

Naspers was slow on the uptake and remember SABCs experiment with satellite on analogue technology in the mid-late 90s?
But this shouldn't come as a shock.
I am reasonably aware of the history of the Moving Pictures Expert Group and the trend in a certain kind of enterprise to be at the forefront of technology when being so allows it to evade competitors and then moving into dinosaur mode the moment a technology invites innovation outside of its control.

It needs to be realized that enterprises like News Corporation (Fox as the successor) and Naspers is that they were built through regulatory capture and manipulation. As enterprises they are fundamentally anti-competitive and incapable of endorsing technological progress which they find threatening to them.

If you look at the latest publications in the Government Gazette on Broadcasting and map that to the millions spent by Naspers on egging on the Film and Publications Board it is abundantly clear that the DoC is gearing up a fundamental content crisis in SA that makes the "media appeals tribunal" saga look tame.

To what end will Naspers support freeing up LTE spectrum for network operators when that spectrum will be used to drive content over which they don't have direct or indirect (such as through the prostitution arrangements with the SABC) over and are unable to monetize?

With the amount of money Naspers is prepared to spend to retain regulatory capture and its history of bribing politicians during apartheid do you expect anything different today?

*by subsidized broadcast spectrum I am referring to the fact that the moment an allocation of spectrum rights is based on considerations other than the market demand rate for that spectrum it is subsidized. If there was an auction for spectrum in the bands used for television broadcasts network operators would trump the price paid by broadcast signal carriers. So if Multichoice wants spectrum outside DVB-S2 it should pay what the market related price is.
 
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supersunbird

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We are clearly using different metrics here. Saturation is the extent to which the available spectrum is used to carry data. Vodacom hasn't been the most efficient here and has instead tried to make the most money off of it.
They are not a charity and this is a free market.
 
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