Ericsson and the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) issued a set of recommendations for enhanced spectrum development to address connectivity challenges across the continent.

The recommendations are the first fruit of a collaboration the pair agreed in June 2020 to encourage coordination of spectrum usage as a means of decreasing the cost of technology and deliver affordable services in Africa.

In a report, Ericsson and ATU argued a limited amount of spectrum is currently allocated to the mobile and other communication industries, arguing this posed hurdles to Africa’s digital transformation.

They recommended authorities grant spectrum “in a timely, predictable and cost-effective fashion” to pave the way for “affordable, high-quality delivery” of communication services and encourage smart technology initiatives.

African nations should also conduct “technology neutral” spectrum licensing and adopt an approach of promoting “the right mix of low-, mid- and high-band radio spectrum”, to ensure all operators have access.

Another suggestion involves giving licensees “the right to share spectrum voluntarily”.

Ericsson and the ATU pledged to work on implementing the guidelines alongside countries and other stakeholders in the region.

Licensing lag
Africa trails other global markets in terms of issuing spectrum for mobile services, GSMA Intelligence spectrum lead analyst Dennisa Nichiforov-Chuang explained.

Nichiforov-Chuang told Mobile World Live local governments had awarded approximately 80MHz per operator on average, and 250MHz per country by end-2019. The global average was almost double, with 150MHz per operator and 480MHz per country.

GSMA Intelligence research also found a delay in spectrum allocation, mostly due to regulation, she noted.