The spectrum licensing process

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 11:14

Tim Genders, Chairperson of WAPA, says that the goal is that every home in South Africa should be connected to the internet, with equitable pricing, within the next 10 years. And WAPA members will play a huge role in this programme. 

While one of the goals – connectivity to every household – may be a reality, the same cannot be said of the affordability/equitability of pricing. It is no secret that low-income areas pay 80 times more for data than data in high-income areas.

Spectrum licensing process

Here’s a quick outline of One-owner-per-frequency versus Dynamic Spectrum Allocation:

 

One-owner-per-frequency

Dynamic Spectrum Allocation

High price received in auctions

N/A

Protection of the existing mobile network operators (high barrier to entry for others)

Maintains high quality of connection

 

Limited competition

Spectrum fully used

High price of data to end user

Lower prices to the end user

 

 

Homes

DSTV subscribers

Internet

 

Formal

11 252 000

 

 

77.6%

Traditional

1 145 500

 

 

7.9%

Informal

1 972 000

 

 

13.6%

Premium

 

1 500 000

 

 

Compact

 

2 500 000

 

 

Access

 

1 000 000

 

 

ADSL

 

 

600 000

 

Fixed LTE

 

 

300 000

 

Fibre

 

 

400 000

 

Fixed wireless

 

 

200 000

 

 

ADSL

600 000

Fixed LTE

300 000

Fibre

400 000

Fixed wireless

200 000

 

Africa analysis: 1.5 to 1.7 million connected households

WAPA proposed to the government on 2 April 2019 that allocating further spectrum should be done on a many-owners-per-frequency basis. This proven global model called dynamic spectrum allocation is promoted and driven by the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance. In essence, a frequency is allocated to a primary owner and if they are not using it in a particular area, then a secondary owner can use the frequency. This chain allocation to a tertiary owner should the secondary owner also not use the frequency.

This method brings down the price of the spectrum and allows meaningful competition to arise. The end result will be more connectivity at a higher quality and, importantly, a lower price to 90% of South African homes currently relying on mobile data.

The frequencies where WAPA requested this method to be adopted for future re-allocation are 470-694 MHz, 3.6-3.7 GHz, 5.9 to 6.4 GHz and 24 GHz.

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