Accra, 7th September, 2017
The National Communications Authority (NCA) has taken a regulatory decision to permit Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) with existing 2G Licences to deploy Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems (UMTS), which is a 3G technology, in unserved and underserved communities across the country. The decision is expected to result in increased data access to areas which hitherto were not covered by MNOs with 3G services. The decision was announced at a media briefing addressed by the Acting Director General of the NCA, Joe Anokye in Accra.
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is a third generation (3G) technology. It is deployed using the 900MHz frequency band which was originally assigned for the deployment of 2G services (GSM) in Ghana. The UMTS technology was originally authorised in the 2100MHz frequency band.
Addressing the media, Joe Anokye said the UMTS technology makes it easier for telcos to expand their data coverage with minimum costs especially as they can be deployed over a large area at less costs. The UMTS technology also opens up the space for telcos to reach out to folks in areas where hitherto they will not because of the costs in deploying base stations there.
Joe Anokye said the benefits of allowing telcos to deploy UTMS is particularly beneficial to consumers. “With this, we will be promoting digital inclusion in Ghana and in the process customers in unserved & underserved areas will see the immense benefits especially as they see improvement with their access to data and data services, additionally, since this will lead to a maximization of spectrum use. It will lead to enhanced, consistent 3G user experience and reduce 3G coverage black spots”, he said, adding that the technology will also introduce choice and competition for the consumer while increasing data penetration, improved spectral efficiency and improve handover problems.
The Ag. Director General stressed that the heart of this decision is the consumer and that the NCA will monitor the UTMS deployment to ensure that all these benefits that have been penned down for the ultimate benefit of the consumer will come to fruition. He said, communication is essential for development so ultimately this will go a long way to support government initiatives to bring development to the rural areas.
The Authorisation to provide 3G services in the 900MHz band will be granted for specific areas upon application by a telco. The NCA will however give regard to unserved and underserved areas in considering the applications. MNOs will receive an Authorisation and not a Licence. The NCA has waived Application and Authorisation Fees or Charges for this service to interested telcos whiles authorisation will be for the unexpired term of the applicant’s 2G Licence.
The Chamber of Telecommunications will analyze the impact of this announcement and make its position public in due course.