We need LTE spectrum now: Vodacom

Richard Boorman, head of Vodacom‘s corporate affairs said operators are making massive investments in networks in this very capital-intensive industry, but desperately need spectrum.

“We are pouring massive amounts into network capex [capital expenditure] — more than R6-billion a year and the number of 3G base stations are increasing at annual increase of 25%, as well as massive investments in fibre optic back haul,” he explained.

“All of this stuff is going on, but spectrum is key.”

Boorman said valuable spectrum, recently handed back by Sentech, could be licensed right away and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) need not wait for the department of communications to get its house in order before it can proceed.

“There is a chunk of spectrum available. We are being reasonably vocal in explaining that we are keen for it to be assigned as quickly as possible,” Boorman said.

But on April 17 Icasa made it clear to the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications that it would not make a move until the minister said so.

Kanagaratnam Lambotharan, chief technology officer at MTN South Africa, said the qualification criteria for 4G spectrum were still being finalised by the minister of communications.

Mervin Miemoukanda, information and communication technologies research analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said there are various reasons for the delay.

“One of them is the uncertainty around the digital migration in the country. Icasa is still busy drafting the framework for long-term evolution. I think the government wants to get it right, but it’s taking too long,” he said.

“This situation really impedes market development as service providers, such as MTN and Vodacom, won’t be able to launch certain products in the market or invest heavily in their current long-term evolution services.”

But time means money, according to telecoms expert at Ellipsis regulatory solutions Dominic Cull: “The opportunity cost to South Africa of not finalising this process runs into billions of rands: decisions need to be made now,” he said.

Source: Mail & Guardian

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We need LTE spectrum now: Vodacom