The National Communications Authority (NCA) has taken a significant step towards correcting the market imbalances and boosting consumer choice in the telecommunications sector with the introduction of technology neutrality for non-SMP operators.
This initiative will grant Vodafone and AT the authorisation to re-farm their spectrum assignment in the 900MHz, 1800MHz, and 2100MHz bands to provide 4G services, subject to paying an annual premium.
Technology neutrality is one of the remedial actions to address Significant Market Power (SMP) concerns.
The benefits of Technology Neutrality include the opportunity for operators who do not currently have 4G services to deploy it within their current spectrum assignment, leveling the playing field and enhancing their competitiveness.
It also provides the option for non-SMP operators with 4G services to re-farm portions of their current spectrum assignment to improve the quality of their 4G services.
Technology neutrality enhanced consumer choice for 4G services.
The NCA remains committed to fostering an environment that encourages competition, investment, and technological advancement for the benefit of all stakeholders.
For governments that want consumers and businesses in their country to benefit from the best possible mobile broadband experience, support for technology neutral spectrum licensing is a must.
Technology neutrality lets operators replace for example GSM with 4G and soon 5G in a particular frequency band.
The process, which is also called reframing, allows spectrum to be used more efficiently, which should always be the overarching spectrum management goal for all regulators and governments.
Assigning technology neutral spectrum rights has been considered best practice for over a decade. Consequently, most regulators around the world, including those in the European Union, North America, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia have adopted the principle of technology neutrality for mobile spectrum licences.
The most important development is the ability to ‘gracefully refarm’ bands so they are used simultaneously for several technologies – including 4G and 5G.
This allows for the introduction newer technologies in line with increasing mobile broadband demand while at the same time supporting legacy users.
For regulators this means they no longer have to worry that refarming will leave legacy users unserved.