The delay in digital migration, and assigning of high-demand spectrum to mobile operators, is costing South Africa and the mobile operators dearly.
The digital migration process, which should have been completed in 2011, is still dragging on – with no end in sight.
This results in the price of mobile data remaining stubbornly high, and mobile speeds not being as fast as they could be.
Speaking to the SABC, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the delay in the digital migration and spectrum assignment is a big problem for the mobile industry.
“South Africa is extremely delayed – we are at least 10 years behind in terms of availability of spectrum,” said Joosub.
He said the local industry has made a plan by refarming spectrum and implementing measures to increase efficiency.
“We are now among the most spectrum-efficient networks in the world.”
“We have launched 4G, and now have 75% 4G population coverage, without any 4G spectrum.”
There is, however, a downside to rolling out a 4G network without additional spectrum – increased costs.
The higher costs mean that data prices cannot be reduced as fast as would be possible if Vodacom was handed more spectrum.