Vodacom, MTN 'desperate' for spectrum

2013-05-21 11:29
SA mobile operators are urging the government to move faster in the delivery of LTE spectrum. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

SA mobile operators are urging the government to move faster in the delivery of LTE spectrum. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - While mobile operators have been rolling out higher speed Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, the lack of appropriate spectrum continues to hamper expanded services.

"To be frank the situation is not optimal from the perspective that we do need more spectrum," Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub told News24.

LTE is much faster than 3G services, and only Vodacom and MTN currently offer the service, although the range is limited to urban centres in SA.

Vodacom has been preparing its network for the mass rollout of the higher speed network, which could also see higher revenues from data.

"What we've been doing for the last three or four years in readying the network for LTE, so 77% of our sites already have what we call Single Band Technology, which is LTE ready," Joosub said.

Ideal spectrum

He added that though, that the allocation of the two critical frequencies was stalling the operators' ability to expand services.

"The only missing ingredient is spectrum and the big thing is the 2.6[GHz] spectrum, which government can allocate but the more worrying part is that the 800MHz has not been cleaned up."

The 800MHz spectrum is seen as ideal for mobile technology but analogue broadcast TV occupies it. It is expected that once the migration to digital terrestrial television (DTT) is complete, the spectrum will be freed up for mobile use.

However, the DTT process which was initially scheduled for completion before the 2010 Soccer World Cup, has been hit by delays.

"The SABC and e.tv have yet to advise us on the set-top-box control system... this has resulted in the current delays we are facing," Communications Minister Dina Pule said.

"I hope the SABC and e.tv are listening. You are holding us up," she added.

"The digital migration needs to happen; as a country, we need to get the broadcasters off the 800MHz so the digital migration needs to happen so that spectrum can be freed up to be utilised for LTE," said Joosub.


MTN said that it was focused on lobbying regulator Icasa (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) to release additional spectrum.

"MTN has always maintained that the allocation of additional spectrum is critical to the rolling out of a LTE network enabling the provisioning of much needed mobile broadband access at significantly higher speeds," said Lambotharan Kanagaratnam, chief technology officer at MTN SA.

Joosub said that it had upgraded its base stations to handle high speed transmission.

"And then, we've been upgrading the number of sites that have high speed transmission. Sixty-six percent of our network already has high speed transmission to it, which can handle LTE."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    mtn  |  vodacom  |  mobile

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.