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Continental body publishes spectrum recommendations

7th May 2021

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) has published spectrum recommendations to support the affordable, high-quality delivery of information and communication technology (ICT) services and promote the development of smart technology initiatives.

The first set of ATU Spectrum Recommendations, released for public consideration, followed a memorandum of understanding signed between Ericsson and the ATU to help accelerate the deployment of technology across Africa.

“The launch of these recommendations is a joint effort aimed at expediting the roll-out of ICT-driven technologies for the development of digital economies in Africa,” says ATU secretary-general John Omo.

The spectrum recommendations outline the importance of the timely, predictable and cost-effective awarding of radio spectrum in countries across the continent, where a limited amount of spectrum is allocated to the mobile industry and other sectors of communication to facilitate the transmission of wireless signals.

The new spectrum recommendations encourage African countries to enable spectrum sharing by giving licensees the right to share their spectrum voluntarily through various means, such as trading and national roaming agreements, as well as work to establish the idea that licensing should be technology-neutral and allow for service innovations.

Additionally, African countries, through the recommendations, are urged to adopt a licensing approach aimed at promoting the right mix of low, mid and high radio band spectrum to ensure that all communications service providers have access to the spectrum quantities and types that allow for the development of a variety of use cases and caters to enterprise and customer demands.

“Ericsson has been behind the scenes consulting on this report, while our own international spectrum experience has assisted in drafting Africa-specific recommendations,” says Ericsson Middle East and Africa president Fadi Pharaon.

“Fostering agility and innovation from next-generation ICT infrastructure is important for Africa’s growth and sustainability,” says Pharaon, noting that the recommendations have been released at a time when Africa is looking to harness ICT-driven innovation, with a rapid rise in the use of technology and smartphones.

By 2026, it is projected that mobile broadband subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa will increase to up to 76%.

The spectrum management strategies highlighted in the recommendations can also be considered as opportunities to accelerate Africa’s digitalisation, he continues.

The harmonised and globally aligned frameworks envisaged by the ATU and Ericsson will assist African countries in spectrum management activities that will accelerate the cost-efficient roll-out of ICT.

The ATU aims to work with countries and all stakeholders across the continent to support the implementation process.

“The aim is for African countries to release the recommended spectrum and licence it to the national telecommunications operators in a cost-effective manner,” the report says.

“This would enable the customer service providers to serve the demands of increasing communication needs and prepare them to deliver new technologies, such as fifth-generation, which look to revolutionise industries, enterprise and consumers alike.”

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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