With the huge traffic occasioned by the rise of mobile internet and the social media which has seen terabytes of data, video and voice calls passing through the internet, mobile operators are seeking additional spectra release to expand their networks and provide efficient quality of service to subscribers.
Surging data traffic on the internet is forcing regulators to look at the available spectrums that can head offload data. Last week, Ofcom, the United Kingdom regulator began a consultation on the possible release of 700MHz spectrum for mobile broadband services, using spectrum currently assigned for digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasts. Ofcom is already planning 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectra awards, as well as supporting the re-farming of existing 2G mobile bands to 3G and LTE.
In Nigeria, providers of Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) services have called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Ministry of Communications Technology to release 2.5 Gigahertz spectrum to enable operators rollout broadband services.
Mrs. Funmi Omogbenigun, GM, Corporate Services, MTN Nigeria, said during a workshop for ICT media practitioners that “We are looking forward to the convergence and the migration path to fourth generation and Long Term Evolution (4G/LTE). We are channeling our resources to join the rest of the world,” adding “We need more spectra and the industry needs more spectra and the NCC is aware of that.” MTN has deployed over 7,500 base transceiver stations (BTS), over 7,000 kilometres of fibre network invested over N1 trillion and is investing $1.3 billion in 2012.
Mr. Steve Evans, CEO, Etisalat Nigeria, said mobile operators would prefer the government make spectrum available at least in the next 12-20 months so that operators can begin addressing the technological migration and 4G devices design and production from the equipment makers. Already GSM operators are seeing data growing at the rate of 50 per cent per month. There is enormous pent up demand for broadband for people to access the internet at good value and at reasonable price.
“What we would like to see is 4G spectrum which is up at 2.5GHz band of spectrum. The government should be working hard to release at least 100MHz of spectrum in that band. The reality is that in mobile communication you have to have deep pockets to fund this kind of business, you can’t split that sort of spectrum up and give it to 10 small companies and hope that somehow they are going to do something.
“You have to give it in big chunks of spectrum to GSM operators so that they can really continue the good works they’ve been doing in terms of taking Nigeria forward into the next decade with a world-class broadband service,” he said adding that LTE was the future of mobile communications in Nigeria.