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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Co-location requires rational decision – Dorward

Deputy Chief Regulatory Officer (CRO) in charge of Regulatory Affairs for all of Zain’s 22 operating companies in the Middle East and Africa, Mrs. Lynne Dorward, has said that successful co-location of infrastructure in telecommunications sector require rational decision.

This is coming as the mobile operator, Zain Group, is currently co-locating infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and has even signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Kuwait for a similar offer.

Mrs. Dorward made this known in Abuja during the 2008 Commonwealth Technology Organisation (CTO)-organised Information and Communications Technology (ICT) summit and exhibitions, which ended last weekend.

“Infrastructure sharing needs to be a rational business decision that should be taken into account at all times,” she declared.

She buttressed her point by saying that the amount of investment that existing operators have already incurred is vital for a successful co-location of infrastructure.

Technical and operational considerations, she said, should include spare capacity and cost of adding and upgrading facilities.

On the environmental decisions, Mrs. Dorward said that it is relevant to satisfy regulatory objectives of free and fair competition and ease of consumer access while at same time respecting operator investment made and risks taken.

She also called for a collaborative approach by working together so that telecom industry would continue to witness sustainable growth.

“Let’s take a collaborative approach and work together,” she said.

Mrs. Dorward cited the origin of co-location of telecom infrastructure to Chile in late 1980’s due to extreme length and narrowness of the country, noting that before now this concept has taken root in the Third Generation (3G) site sharing in Germany and Sweden.

While multiple mobile network operators in India already engaged in effective site sharing, she recalled that as the third operator in Saudi Arabia, Zain already is using site sharing, while it recently signed an MOU with Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to provide same in Kuwait.

She pointed out that it took the emergence of 3G license debacles in Europe between the year 2000 and 2002 for the real impact of infrastructure sharing to be noticed, basically because the economics of multiple 3G network deployments coupled with license fees made the costs prohibitive.

“So, operators asked regulators to approve site sharing,” she said, emphasizing that because the regulators have to overcome initial reluctance but realized that market could still be competitive, therefore they encouraged it.

Environmental impact, she said, brought to the fore the cost of increasingly remote location of power, security and sites among others.


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