NCA receives plaudits for opening up 4G spectrum auction

The NCA declared last week it had decided to allow all interested telecommunication companies to bid.

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The National Communications Authority has been commended by the  National communication Reporters for broadening the sale of the 800MHz spectrum for the benefit of all telecom operators who may interest.

In a statement released by NCR and copied to Pulse Business, NCR says the move is in the best interest of the greater majority of the people, because the move will make highspeed intrnet readily accessible to Ghanaians.

Not all players in the telecoms sector agree with the move. According to them it thwarts the initial attempt to increase the local content in the sector by awarding the 4G lincense to wholly- Ghanaian owned companies alone.

in 2012  the NCA awarded the  Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) Licenses in the 2600MHz spectrum band exclusively Surfline Communications, Blu Telecoms and Goldkey Telecoms. Despite massive investment in infrastructure by these companies, they have had problems scaling and expanding to other parts of the country. The third company Goldkey Telecoms are yet to start operations at all.

The National Communication Reporters believe access to 4G internet cannot suffer on the need for local content empowerment.

"we hold the position that the greater majority of Ghanaians can no longer be denied immediate access to affordable 4G services."

The statement said, “It is in this light that NCR believes that the NCA, and for that matter the government, could not have taken a better decision than to open up the auction of the 800MHz spectrum to give all telcos in the country the opportunity to access it and improve on their services.”

"It is our understanding that the 800MHz spectrum was originally prioritized by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for television broadcasting, but the ITU has now re-prioritized it for telecoms as part of the global digital migration," the statement said.

It said the NCR was therefore glad when the NCA announced it will from December 3 to 8, 2015, auction a pair of 2x10MHz spectrum blocks within the 800MHz band for improved 3G and 4G telecoms service.

According to the statement, Mobile communication is fast moving to IP (internet protocol) based globally and that is largely driven by mobile broadband technologies, the best of which is now 4G technology, which offers 10 times the data speeds 3G offers and therefore gives users greater experience than 3G does.

It said the new technologies also promise the rollout of innovative services such as mobile health, mobile education, mobile agriculture and several others that will benefit the greater majority of Ghanaians.

Data uptake in Ghana is growing very fast. This is confirmed by NCA's Mobile Data Subscription Report which shows that 3G data connections have crossed the 60 per cent mark. Indeed other industry reports show data consumption has grown by over 250 per cent within the last 11 months alone, and by 10,000 per cent between 2011 and now.

Justification

On the basis of the foregoing, NCR is convinced that Ghanaians are hungry for data and cannot wait for the best data technology for much better experience.

"We have taken note of some concerns raised by the BWA license holders, but we believe that their position denies Ghanaians a quick and affordable access to 4G, which is not a policy any government should pursue," it said.

The statement said “NCR fully acknowledges the need for local content, but believes strongly that local content is not necessarily about ownership but more about participation in the value chain of the resource in question”.

"We notice with regret that out of six multinational telcos which command over 30 million mobile subscriptions in Ghana, only MTN, which has about 50 per cent market share has put in a bid for the new license," it said,

The statement expressed the hope that the other big players in the industry will find innovative ways of gaining access to the appropriate spectrum so that they could give the remaining 50 per cent plus of Ghanaian mobile users access to 4G services.

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