ICT Chamber demands 4G spectrum for locals

The Ghana Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Chamber says it is against the National Communications Authority (NCA) auctioning the new 800 MHZ Spectrum to a foreign company.

According to the Chamber, the spectrum is a national asset which must not be put in the hands of a foreign company.

Four companies, including Surfline and Goldkey (both Ghanaian companies), a Qatarian company and MTN are currently bidding for the spectrum which is expected to provide 4G Technology, which became available as a result of the digital migration.

Speaking to the media in Accra yesterday, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana ICT Chamber, Mr. Paul Adom Otchere, there are Ghanaian companies more than capable of procuring and running the spectrum.

The NCA has commenced process to auction the new 800MHZ which according to Mr. Okyere would allow the precious national asset fall into foreign hands if the terms of the auction were not reversed to the earlier policy to maintain this Long Term Evolution (LTE) which is the future of the mobile phone industry in Ghanaian hands.

LTE is the next-generation ICT technology powering 4G Internet today. It supports and creates Internet-based applications that make voice crispier and clearer, data transfer faster, and video captured in real time as well as limitless other possibilities.

Currently government has issued three licences to local indigenous companies — Surfline Communications, Goldkey Telecoms and Blu Telecoms. These have rolled-out or are in the process of rolling- out 3 LTE-based operations, having invested about $200 million.

Government’s offer to these Ghanaian companies was under the 2600 MHz frequency. With the advent of digital migration, the 800 MHz frequency has become available for usage as an LTE platform rendering the same services as the 2600 MHz.

The new 800 MHz system is better, faster and easier to deploy nationwide than the 2600 MHz. Business and social activities or services will now be faster and better with massive LTE support. Health research will be faster, political governance will be more effective, media activities will be more diverse, and very effective transmission of data and voice will support education.

“Given that this spectrum is a national asset that can be used to develop a local ICT industry, the NCA must offer the spectrum to a local Ghanaian Consortium that would offer capacity of the 4G to all telcos including MTN and Vodafone such that the competition will drive price down,” he argued.

“The national asset must remain in Ghanaian hands. It would be unfortunate and shocking on the part of NCA to allow MTN to take over the spectrum. If the spectrum goes to MTN for 15 years as the tender suggest, a clear God given opportunity to develop the local ICT industry would have been lost,” he stated.

According to him, “MTN may employ a lot of people and may have invested in Ghana, but the quantum of profit repatriation and funds transfer will surpass all that investment locally by at least 70 percent.

This 4G Technology he said, is a new opportunity to create a local consortium that if supported could become the Ghanaian MTN for the future.

He added that, it would be important to invest in local companies and the NCA must support the consortium of local companies so they could manage the spectrum in the country.

Mr. Otchere said . SSNIT and other companies were willing to raise the 83 million dollars needed to own the spectrum which eventually would bring revenue to the country.

“This history of development has been indigenization so such spectrum that has the potential of improving technology in Ghana cannot be put in the hands of foreigners,” he stressed.

Every country across the world he said, has such spectrum they own and it would be a violation of the social contract if the NCA allowed such opportunity to be taken away from Ghanaians.

He therefore, called on companies and stakeholders to come on board and support the Ghana ICT Chamber to ensure that prized national asset was not taken away from Ghanaians.

The Ghana ICT Chamber is an organisation set up to support and lobby indigenous companies to be given opportunities to develop a local ICT industry.

By Michael D. Abayateye

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