Global mobile association the GSMA has recommended that the South African government embark on a comprehensive consultation with all stakeholders before implementing its proposed award of all future high-demand spectrum (suitable for 4G LTE services) to a newly-established wholesale open-access network (WOAN). GSMA chief regulatory officer John Giusti said in a press release: ‘Policymakers in countries considering a move to a WOAN for 4G services may believe they can achieve greater network coverage compared with models that rely on network competition. However, the research published today demonstrates that this is not the case. We have found that network competition produces faster and more extensive network coverage, and the examples highlighted in the report indicate little evidence that a WOAN is likely to achieve this.’ The official went on to say: ‘We are concerned that a move to wholesale networks will harm consumers, as history has demonstrated that network monopolies normally result in high prices and lower investment in infrastructure.’
As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in October 2016 the South African government approved the ICT Policy White Paper, which has been in development since 2012, with the document outlining the establishment of a WOAN. Under the new framework, all wireless service providers in the country will be required to return their previously assigned high-demand spectrum, which in turn will be allocated to the WOAN.