Politics don't belong in mobile - GSMA

2012-11-15 12:06
Peter Lyons of the GSMA has urged politicians to stop meddling in the allocation of spectrum, critical to high speed wireless networks. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Peter Lyons of the GSMA has urged politicians to stop meddling in the allocation of spectrum, critical to high speed wireless networks. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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VIDEO: GSMA spectrum policy

2012-11-15 10:44

Peter Lyons of the GSMA explains why it is important for the South African government to release spectrum for 4G wireless rollout in this YouTube video.WATCH

Cape Town - Politicians should not meddle with spectrum allocation that could deliver mobile broadband to developing countries, the GSMA has said.

"I think there are vested interests that would like to get a hold of spectrum which is a national resource and I think it is the role of the regulator to ensure that the spectrum goes to those that can make the most efficient use of that spectrum," Peter Lyons GSMA director for spectrum policy in Africa and the Middle East told News24.

The GSMA represents the interest of mobile operators globally and Lyons was unapologetic about the need for governments in Sub-Saharan Africa to facilitate the rollout broadband wireless services.

"They see the mobile industry as a cow to be milked and perhaps even slaughtered at the end, where the mobile industry is in fact a horse: You can attach society, civilisation, economy to this horse to be taken into the future.

"So they see the cash flows generated as attractive for taxation, very spectrum fees, licensing fees, without looking two or three years down the road," Lyons said.

Mobile growth

In SA, mobile operators MTN and Vodacom announced the rollout of Long Term Evolution higher speed networks, but the companies remain hamstrung by the lack of available spectrum to deliver wireless broadband.

The GSMA acknowledged that the operators were refarming what they had and placed the responsibility on Icasa (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) as the regulator to release the spectrum.

"That's sort of a stopgap measure until Icasa can release more spectrum. There's a demand in the market for 40mbps and the operators have to work with what they have," said Lyons.

"What we'd like to see is spectrum released in the 800, after 2015, 700MHz band; 2.6 [GHz] - all of that issuing of spectrum will be required in addition to the refarming of the existing spectrum holdings," he added.

According to a World Bank report, mobile industry is linked to economic growth. The institution calculated that for every for every 10% increase in mobile penetration, there is a corresponding 0.8% increase in GDP.

In many developing countries politicians have looked at mobile growth as a source of revenue for governments, but Lyons insisted that reduced levies on the industry would spur greater economic development and activity in the region.

"Get the politics out of mobile, this is about creating jobs; this is about growing your economies; this is about helping the bottom of the pyramid. Fixed line connectivity is not going to achieve that."

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