Telecom industry body GSMA wants Saudi Arabia to release more LTE 4G spectrum

Telecom Lead Middle East: GSMA wants the Saudi Arabia
government to release more spectrum to ensure growth in the mobile broadband

GSMA said more allocation of spectrum for mobile
broadband is vital for the economic development of Saudi Arabia.

If the Saudi government releases internationally harmonized spectrum in the
800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, the Kingdom will benefit substantially, according to a
report by Analysys Mason, commissioned by the GSMA.

The release of harmonized spectrum will generate an additional SR 358 billion
($95.5 billion) in Saudi GDP and create 425,000 jobs between 2013 and 2025.

This sum could fall to just $26 billion if the release of the necessary
spectrum is delayed to 2018, and the number of jobs created could be reduced to
just 75,000. Furthermore, failure to use harmonized spectrum would consequently
stop the Kingdom from deriving economies of scale and would require equipment
to be specially designed for that market.

Equipment vendors may be unwilling to develop such
equipment, or may charge very high prices for it, as they will not be able to
spread their fixed costs over a very large user base, and ultimately this would
translate into higher prices for consumers,” Peter Lyons, director of
spectrum policy, Africa and Middle East, told Arab News.

Saudi subscribers could face a significant reduction in the variety of devices

The current spectrum allocation for LTE in the Kingdom, in the 2.3GHz and
2.6GHz bands, follows a completely non-harmonized arrangement, and as a result,
will not deliver the benefits made possible by allocating harmonized spectrum
in the 800 MHz and the 2.6 GHz bands.

Broadband coverage to Kingdom’s large rural areas, providing education and
information benefits to the poorer areas of the Kingdom is vital.

GSMA warned that failure to harmonize spectrum with the international community
will result in the Kingdom being forced to use higher-cost and
poorly-performing devices for LTE. In addition, people from neighboring Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC) countries would not be able to roam with their
devices in the Kingdom.

GSMA is expecting that the 2.6GHz band will be cleared of government users by
2015 or 2016.

“We believe this is a step in the right direction, but there is a
significant cost to delay from 2013 to 2016 in terms of good jobs that could
have been created. Actually, no progress has yet been identified for the 800MHz
band. Clearing this spectrum for mobile broadband should be at the top of
economic policy-makers agendas,” Lyons added.

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