Refarming Frequencies in Rural Areas: A Regulatory Perspective
14 Pages Posted: 21 May 2011
Date Written: May 19, 2011
This paper seeks to assess radio-spectrum refarming in selected African countries. It provides an overview of the debate around spectrum refarming and it presents case studies that offer insights into the African context. This discussion identifies regulatory constrains hindering an optimal usage of premium frequencies and provides policy and regulatory recommendations on how to facilitate spectrum refarming.
Findings show that the analysed African regulatory environments have implemented a technology-neutral licensing regime to enhance competition. Although this regulatory intervention opened up the market by enhancing market opportunities and granting additional licenses, some of the new licensees cannot begin operations because of an artificially created scarcity of spectrum. Further, new licensing frameworks have created a competitive advantage for those operators already holding premium frequencies, as they can refarm assigned spectrum bands positioning themselves as both voice and data service providers.
In addition, due to regulatory delays in liberalising and refarming frequencies suitable for wireless broadband roll-out such as 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz, incumbent operators are merging with smaller telcos, in order to access additional spectrum for the provision of wireless broadband services. This is leading to a spectrum hoarding.
Keywords: Spectrum refarming, wireless broadband, regulation
JEL Classification: K23, L52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation