Tax not, at the expense of the masses

Melissa Chua
27 Oct 2011

Operators and industry players at ITU Telecom World 2011 have put out a call for more government and regulatory support to ensure wireless connectivity is delivered to the masses at quality levels of service.

Citing a Cisco study which forecast global demand for both fixed and mobile networks would grow at a CAGR of 32% for both fixed and mobile networks, Cisco’s VP for global technology policy Robert Pepper said significant amounts of spectrum in the 700-MHz and 800-MHz bands are needed to cater to growing demand.

He called for regulations around broadcasting to be altered to free up the required spectrum to cater to this data demand.

Pepper added lessons could be learned from the digital transition in the United States, which led to an increase in Wi-Fi offload in the country, and called for more spectrum in the 5-MHz frequency band to be made available.

Etisalat’s group CTO Amaru Chavez Pujol also highlighted the importance of spectrum efficiency, stating it is essential for operators to examine new technologies to make the most cost-effective use of available spectrum, due to the high costs of network investment.

According to Pujol, Etisalat’s operations in 18 countries in the Middle East and Africa each faced problems with backhaul, as data traffic had increased by up to 10 times with the introduction of smartphones and tablets into the networks.

The GSM Assocation’s chief government and regulatory affairs offer, Tom Phillips, appealed for governments to take a more active role in ensuring an attractive investment climate for mobile broadband, particularly as operators make the shift to 4G networks.

The vast majority of funds would come from the private sector, but governments should tax operators and citizens less to ensure the masses continued to benefit, said Philips.

Philips added governments should not use spectrum licensing as means of taxing the industry, as the often high costs would distract operators from upfront capacity investment. Spectrum should instead be regarded as an economically sovereign asset, with allocation criteria based on which operator provided the best coverage and timely service rollouts.

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