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HomeNewsRegulators hold key to mobile broadband development in Africa

Regulators hold key to mobile broadband development in Africa

As governments in Africa gain experience in telecommunications management and receive an influx of resources from stakeholders, it is necessary for regulators to view the private sector as a partner in the push toward universal mobile broadband access, according to a new Insider report from Pyramid Research.

The report, titled ‘Regulators Hold the Key to Mobile Broadband Development in Africa’, discusses why regulators should focus on constructing a future-proof legal and regulatory framework to help ensure the development of a healthy mobile broadband ecosystem.

Pyramid Research said it would demonstrate how licensing regime changes within a regulatory framework can produce results favorable to operator-led mobile broadband growth and how regulator flexibility toward the private sector can encourage activity that strengthens the diffusion of mobile broadband in a telecom market.

”The aim of this Insider is to highlight best practices that regulators in Africa should consider as they change regulations that will play a large role in determining the levels of access to mobile broadband on the continent through the end of the decade.

“Pyramid Research believes that there should be a collaborative relationship between telecom regulators and the private sector,” said PR’s Research and Consulting Director, Sonia Jorge.

The most direct way regulators, and by extension governments, can cultivate a give-and-take relationship with mobile network operators that pushes the mobile broadband agenda forward is to form public/private partnerships.

While operators may have more telecommunications resources, regulators and governments have the ability to help ensure these resources are used more efficiently for the purpose of speeding mobile broadband availability.

“Creating a PPP that helps achieve these aims requires appropriate structuring and also includes the delineation of a clear, measurable goal that both operators and regulators can work towards – typically a memorandum of understanding is created for such purposes,” Jorge explained.

Since 2009, when East Africa’s undersea cable Seacom was completed, several other major undersea cables have been built and gone live on the continent, with three additional undersea cables planned by the end of 2014.

Along with a general decline in the cost of mobile telecommunications, the arrival of undersea cables has also been tied to increased bandwidth availability, higher speeds of access to the Internet, and the launch of mobile broadband service offerings.

The past year has seen several operators launch 3G and more recently 4G/LTE services in Africa — for example, in Angola, where Movicel debuted a 4G mobile network ahead of many operators in Europe.

All of these operators have touted the benefits of mobile broadband to their customers and to the country’s development as a whole.

“While the arrival of the undersea cables has already made a discernible impact in many of the countries that have been able to connect to these lines, the fate of the evolution of mobile broadband in Africa undoubtedly rests with regulators in the markets where the cables are or could be deployed,” said the report.

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