Capacity Africa show’s cooperation is crucial to the Growth of Broadband in Africa

I had the pleasure of being asked to moderate two sessions at Capacity Africa in Tanzania this week, they were on the hot topics of monetising LTE &  CAPITALISING ON INFRASTRUCTURE EFFICIENCY. The capitalising on Infrastructure was more of a wholesale debate with  Antonio Nunes CEO ANGOLA CABLES, James Wakesa, CCO, WIOCC, Mark Simpson, CEO, SEACOM, Heiko Trost, CCO, TELECOM NAMIBIA taking part. What was clear from the panel is  generally Africa is now very well served by Sea Cable, but the real question is how can we extend this capability inland and across borders  to really reach the people who need this bandwidth. The general theme was both the wholesale providers and the national operators are going to have to cooperate  to enable this capability to reach who is needed, it was highlighted by the panel that although Angola & Namibia are Neighbours they are not directly interconnected. Also the other question that is still open is how are we going to stimulate more local African content and how is the relationship with the Mega-media companies such as Google going to develop further.

The LTE panel was also fascinating as we had two national operators in  Geoffrey Wandeto Mwangi, Head of Department for Enterprise Service Delivery, SAFARICOM ENTERPRISE BUSINESS UNIT, Deon Geyser, Head of Operations (CCO), MILLICOM INTERNATIONAL CELLULAR (TIGO) – TANZANIA talking about the challenges and considerations in deploying LTE and Leonardo  Maria Cerciello, VP Marketing TELECOM ITALIA SPARKLE talked about the roaming opportunities. The previous speaker from Africa Analysis highlighted  that there are currently only 9 LTE deployments live in Africa currently. The panel highlighted that Spectrum Allocation is the elephant in the room, as in a lot of the countries the regulator have not allocated  spectrum or in some cases certain players have it as they acquired it historically, but new players have not got it allocated. Indeed we have been working in South Africa recently, and because the LTE spectrum bands of 800 & 2.6 have not been allocated Service Providers have launched on the 1.8 bands and this has lead to a degradation in voice quality. The panellists agreed that LTE was part of all their strategies as it could leap frog fixed DSL and to not have it may give them massive competitive disadvantages. The scarcity of Spectrum may actually lead again to better cooperation between providers and indeed maybe new open access models developing, although the panellists not surprisingly would like to acquire the Spectrum and build themselves. The other topic which is very current is whether Wifi offload will be come important to these providers as they deploy LTE and whether they will build these assets or purchase them from other parties. Generally the panel agreed that WIFI offload may have a important role although  their preferred method would be to build this network rather than buy it off third parties as it would be hard to control quality, however if they had to they would buy capacity in the short term.

Capacity did a great job in bringing this event, which had representatives from nearly all the players in the market. Cavell is undertaking a lot of consulting project in the area of mobile broadband & content strategy in Africa & other regions, and if you would like to find out more contact Matt Townend : matthew.townend@cavellgroup.com

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