Revoke spectrum licence of dormant CDMA operators, GSMA tells NCC

By The Rainbow

For efficient spectrum management in the Nigerian growing telecoms industry,  the Chief Regulatory Officer of GSMA,  Tom Phillips, has urged the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, to revoke spectrum license of dormant Code Divisional Multiple Access, CDMA, operators in the country.

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, spanning more than 220 countries,  and unites s nearly 800 of the world's mobile operators with 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem.

The CDMA market inluding  players like MultiLinks,Reltel, Starcomms,GTE, Intercellular,and Visafone is today struggling to survive even as the GSM operators are coasting home with huge profits.

Active subscribers: Philips in a telephone interview recently with Vanguard Hi-Tech to discuss the GSMA report  on  sub-Saharan Africa  mobile network growth  said that the regulatory authority, NCC   should have a round table meeting with the CDMA operators and ask them to show evidence  of active subscribers in their network after which license of any operators that does not meet the benchmark should be revoked.

He said that spectrum is a scarce national resource adding that  efficient spectrum management was  paramount to promoting investment and connectivity.

Without mincing words, he noted that  spectrum should be assigned to those operators that have previously demonstrated an ability to use the spectrum efficiently;

Assign spectrum on economically efficient methods: 'New spectrum should be assigned using economically efficient methods that balance the socio-economic benefits with the capital expenditure required to deploy advanced networks, and should, as a matter of priority, be assigned to those operators that have previously demonstrated an ability to use the spectrum efficiently.

'With a number of existing spectrum licenses coming up for renewal across the region, regulators must establish a transparent and predictable process for granting spectrum licences and renewing spectrum usage rights in order to allow operators to plan their investments.

The renewal of spectrum usage rights should also be based on recovering administrative costs and promoting investment instead of maximizing short-term fees' he explained.

Technology neutrality: Similarly, Peter Lyons also of GSMA who spoke recently during NCC organized annual consultative  on Engineering and emerging technologies in his presentation titled: 'Impact of Spectrum Infrastructure sharing on spectrum management'  said that the Commission should exercise principles of technology neutrality in order to improve the economic and spectral efficiency of frequency assignments subject to the use of technologies that can technically co-exist without causing interference with existing services.

According to Peter, efficient  and quality networks require telecoms providers to design and manage their own networks, adding that government's role should be to intervene only to safeguard competition and manage scarce spectrum resources.

'Access to public property and rights of way should be provided under favourable terms and conditions State intervention to build or manage networks is not an effective or efficient substitute to private sector-owned and managed networks, it is an option of 'last resort' ( with clear, demonstrable evidence of market failure).

Transmission monopolies: He said that access should be made available to competitors on commercially reasonable terms and conditions that are transparent and non-discriminatory.

More supportive policy needed in Africa:
For the Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA, realising the longer-term potential of the mobile sector depends on a transparent and enabling policy environment for the industry itself and for associated verticals.

Spectrum Harmonisation:
While some governments have recognised the importance of harmonising spectrum across the region, Philips noted that  much work remains to be done to fully allocate harmonised spectrum, in particular the 700MHz and 800MHz (Digital Dividend) bands.

He said that accelerating the analogue to digital television switchover and freeing up Digital Dividend spectrum bands for mobile broadband would significantly boost economic growth in the region.

'Broader economic analysis predicts that mobile broadband adoption would generate up to US $197 billion in additional GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa between 2015 and 2020 and help fuel the creation of 16 million new jobs across a variety of sectors' he explained.

Taxation Taxation as a proportion of the total cost of mobile ownership, he said was s higher than the global average across Sub-Saharan Africa countries, reducing the affordability of mobile services for end users. 'Nearly half of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa impose customs duties on mobile handset imports, reaching over 30 per cent in some cases.

'Lowering taxation levels on the mobile sector would benefit consumers, businesses and government by lowering the cost of ownership, encouraging the take-up of new mobile services, improving productivity and boosting GDP and overall tax revenues in the longer term' he explained.