South Africa’s wholesale mobile network is a terrible idea – GSMA

South Africa’s proposed wholesale open access network (WOAN) is a bad idea, according to a new report by the GSMA.

The WOAN is a pillar of the government’s National ICT Policy White Paper, which was not well received by mobile networks when it launched.

Aspects of the White Paper have since been amended after feedback from the mobile industry, but the WOAN is still a priority for the Department of Telecommunications.

The GSMA’s report stated that of the of the wholesale networks examined in Kenya, Mexico, Russia, Rwanda, and South Africa:

  • Only one was rolled out.
  • Markets were plagued by slow progression and cancelled launches.

Bad decision

“Policymakers in countries considering a move to a wholesale open access network for 4G services may believe they can achieve greater network coverage compared with models that rely on network competition. However, the research published today demonstrates that this is not the case,” said the GSMA.

“We have found that network competition produces faster and more extensive network coverage.”

It stated that private companies competing to have good network coverage has resulted in over 5 billion people being connected globally – including 3.8 billion people in developing countries.

“We are concerned that a move to wholesale networks will harm consumers, as history has demonstrated that network monopolies normally result in high prices and lower investment in infrastructure.”

“We call upon governments looking to implement a WOAN to instead support the ability of mobile operators to enter into infrastructure sharing agreements on a voluntary basis and consider how they can apply market-friendly spectrum assignment methods to maximise coverage,” it said.

Now read: How Vodacom builds its network when government blocks capacity increases

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South Africa’s wholesale mobile network is a terrible idea – GSMA