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Convergence Partners’ recently published research report, “Let My People Go (Online)”, summarised in this piece on TechCentral, presents a provocative but nevertheless incomplete and in some critical aspects misleading characterisations of the requirements and opportunities for ensuring powerful, affordable and widespread broadband access to South Africans.
ICASA has called the prospects for introducing local loop unbundling obligations on Telkom into question on the grounds that according to its own figures Telkom suffers from a substantial access line deficit. In other words the prices Telkom charges for local loop services fall far short of covering the costs it incurs for operating and maintaining its copper local loops.
With the news that Table Mountain had been preliminarily announced as one of the new 7 Natural Wonders of the world, we once again reminded about the power and size of South Africa’s favourite IM platform, MXit. In fact 16 million votes were sourced from the platform over 2 weeks of voting, underscoring just how widely diffused and influential this home-grown IM platform has become.
TD-LTE – the unpaired version of the future dominant mobile broadband technology LTE – is poised to become the first time division duplex (TDD mobile radio access network (RAN) system deployed on a large scale in unpaired spectrum across the world. It seems likely to succeed where predecessors such as the 3G TD-SCDMA and the potential 4G technology WiMAX have not.
The advent of small cell architectures for mobile networks will be driven by the demand for more capacity that cannot be met simply by deploying more equipment operating at additional frequencies in existing macrocell networks. Small cells are critical for enabling the substantial offload of mobile data traffic onto broadband fixed facilities as close as possible to its point of origin and destination, to avoid congestion in radio access networks (RAN).
There are arguments with a significant economic and operational basis to justify interest in the idea of national wholesale LTE networks, in the extreme case only one. However, such a network or small number of such networks would necessitate tackling and resolving satisfactorily a number of complex regulatory, policy, and business issues, some of which are reminiscent of the era before market liberalization.
A recent story on MyBroadband (http://mybroadband.co.za/news/telecoms/17639-Will-you-pay-for-ICASAs-spectrum-auction.html) contained the quote that a “beauty contest” - where applicants are judged on a predetermined set of criteria, such as speed of deployment, spectrum efficiency, stimulating competition and benefit to the country – is a much better way to assign spectrum to competing or potential operators than auctions.