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Untested policies could hamstring telecoms

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Proposed policy changes could have a huge negative impact on the telecommunications industry.
This is the word from Mteto Nyati, CEO of MTN SA, who points out that the industry is facing a number of massive challenges.
The new integrated broadband policy on the table is cause for concern, Nyati says. He points to the damage done to the tourism industry due to the introduction of an untested policy, and urges government to avoid making the same mistake with telecommunications.
“We cannot afford to be playing around with a policy that could have huge impact,” he says. “We worry about policies that have never been tested that we will be experimenting with in South Africa.”
One of the huge challenges facing telecommunications today is a lack of spectrum, which is directly responsible for poor network quality, Nyati says.
“We need to have the spectrum to deliver the kind of services we would like to deliver,” Nyati says. “This is a big problem in South Africa. We all need to find ways to pressure the right people to get the spectrum allocated.
“On one hand, government says we must reduce the cost of communication. But by not having spectrum we are increasing the cost by putting in densification technologies because we do not have the spectrum.”
Also contributing to poor network quality is the fact that the bulk of spectrum that has been allocated is lying idle.
“There is already spectrum that has been allocated – but 98% of subscribers are served by just 40% of the allocated spectrum,” Nyati says. “The other 60% is not being used, not being delivered.
“We need to find ways of ensuring that spectrum that has been allocated can be easy to trade to people can use it.”