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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nigeria, a major mobile broadband market – GSMA

The Global System for Mobile Association (GSMA) has said that Nigeria is a major mobile broadband market in Africa.

GSMA made this observation at the just concluded NigeriaCom organised by Informa Telecom, through its spokesperson, Mr. Ross Bateson, in a presentation titled: “Delivering on the vast potential - Mobile Broadband in Nigeria.”

He said mobile Broadband has built good momentum across Africa, with over 7 million High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) connections and an additional 440,000 being added every month through Wireless Intelligence.

Mr. Bateson also said that there are currently 29 HSPA networks across the continent with a further five being planned, and there are four planned Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, namely by Safaricom in Kenya, and MTN, Cell-C and Vodacom in South Africa.

Mobile Broadband, he said, has proved most successful in Africa where transparent, non-intrusive regulation has been put in place to allow competition between operators.

“It is vital in an area where fixed broadband infrastructure is generally low; that governments and regulators provide mobile operators sufficient access to spectrum to meet demand,” he said.

Mobile Broadband deployment in Africa, according to him, has Nigeria on top of the scale with over 75 million mobile subscribers, the path from Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) through to HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE provides the potential to give mobile broadband connectivity to millions of Nigerians.

“Less than 100,000 have access to broadband,” he declared, stressing that HSPA+ for instance, could be deployed using the same 2.1 Gega Hertz (GHz) spectrum required for HSPA.

“Three Nigerian carriers have 2.1GHz spectrum currently and are rolling out HSPA,” he disclosed.

Explaining that HSPA+ is capable of peak download speeds of between 21 mega bytes per second (Mbps) and 42 Mbps; providing Nigerians with a better user experience and faster access to rich and critical content.

As said by him, combining the GSM family technologies such as HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE followed by the logical upgrade path, Nigerian mobile operators could leverage the vast global GSM ecosystem.

In doing so, Bateson said, Nigeria would have at its disposal a cost-effective broadband network providing much needed, high-performance connectivity, with broad roaming capabilities, to the vast majority of the population.

“Mobile Broadband will connect Nigeria,” he asserted, saying that the benefits of mobile broadband is enormous, underlining the fact that it is a key social and economic development lever, driving Internet connectivity and bridging the existing digital divide.

The rapid rise in mobile data usage in Nigeria, he said, would yield major social and economic benefits as long as there is sufficient spectrum available to meet demand.

These benefits, he said, includes the connectivity for businesses and consumers not reached by fixed-line broadband networks; provision of new services, particularly in rural areas, such as education, mHealth, financial services and mobile banking, eGovernment and mCommerce to mention a few.

The GSMA spokesman emphasised that in the global mobile broadband spectrum, African population coverage has spectrum harmonisation for 2.5GHz, noting that 2500-2690MHz band is globally allocated to International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) Services.

For him, the 2.5GHz represents a rare example of a truly harmonised band which paves the way for huge economies of scale, which could be realised if planned properly.

“This is the first band being commercially used for LTE,” he said, pointing out that TeliaSonera’s network opened in Stockholm and Oslo in December 2009, while regulators must plan carefully to open 2.5GHz to mobile operators.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) ‘Option 1’ indicates far superior to other options in terms of spectrum efficiency, interference, cost and other issues.

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