Arab States should allocate UHF band for  mobile broadband: GSMA

GSMA has highlighted that a significant amount of the UHF spectrum band (470-694MHz) currently used for broadcasting could also be used effectively for mobile broadband in the Arab States.

The report, “Terrestrial Broadcasting and Spectrum Use in the Arab States,” highlights that terrestrial digital television broadcasting in the Arab States does not need an exclusive allocation of the UHF spectrum band.

The report calls on Arab Spectrum Management Group (ASMG) countries to agree on a co-primary allocation for broadcast and mobile in the UHF spectrum band at the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) in November 2015.

Industry reports suggest that Middle East and Africa will experience the strongest mobile data traffic growth of any region between 2014 and 2019, but in some Arab States mobile broadband growth is restricted by a lack of available spectrum.

“Spectrum is a scarce resource and regulatory authorities in the Arab States are looking to maximise flexibility so that their networks are ready to meet consumers’ growing demand for mobile data,” said John Giusti, deputy chief regulatory officer, GSMA.

“Adding a mobile allocation would allow countries to make the best and most valuable use of this spectrum to meet the needs of their citizens, especially for underserved communities, while still supporting over-the-air television in the band,” Giusti  added.

GSMA believes that a joint position among the ASMG member states in favour of a co-primary allocation in the UHF spectrum for broadcast and mobile at WRC-15 would foster the option to roll out low-cost mobile broadband services in the future, especially in underserved areas.

Another reason behind this proposal is the lessening demand for broadcasting capacity in the region. Demand for broadcasting capacity in the region has been overestimated in previous policy decisions, GSMA says. The growing popularity of satellite television and IPTV has further reduced the demand for spectrum for broadcasting.

According to GSMA, efficient placement of terrestrial broadcasting in the UHF band would free spectrum across the Arab States even if all existing TV channels continue to be broadcast over digital terrestrial television.

“This would not only allow television broadcasting more than a sufficient allocation of the spectrum resource, but would also free up spectrum to allow mobile broadband to grow and thrive, delivering its well-documented benefits to people, businesses and governments throughout the region,” said Giusti.

Rajani Baburajan

[email protected]

 

 

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