MTC spectrum application handled fairly

MTC this week in a roundabout way claimed that the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia is dragging its feet in the issuance of additional spectrum. The mobile operator said it needs the additional spectrum to push ahead with a planned investment of N$1 billion, which may make it the biggest mobile operator not only for voice services but data as well.
For its part, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia through its Chief Executive Officer, Festus Mbandeka said that MTC did not address all the matters pertaining to its application for additional spectrum. “CRAN received a license application for additional spectrum from MTC on 16 April 2015. Several consultations were held and such application was published in the Government Gazette for public comments in October 2015 as per the provisions of the relevant legislative and regulatory provisions.”
Added Mdandeka, “the application is still pending before CRAN and is within the legal timeframe for the consideration of applications as per CRAN’s regulatory processes. This was communicated to MTC in December 2015.”
Reiterating CRAN’s position as a regulator, Mbandeka said, “Regulatory processes, and the notion of impartiality dictates that CRAN may not comment on applications that are pending before it until such time that the application is properly considered and a decision is made in terms of the relevant provisions of the Communications Act. The final decision and the reasons for the decision will be published in the Government Gazette once made as per the legislative requirements.”
“All applicants and licensees are expected and encouraged to conduct business and make sound investment decisions that are in line with the requirements of the regulatory framework within which they operate,” Mbandeka added.
This week, the mobile operator called a press conference in which it explained why it needed the additional spectrum, a situation it said was being delayed by Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia for reasons unknown to MTC. Responding directly to questions, its spokesperson Tim Ekandjo sounded positive about MTC’s request for additional spectrum. “We are confident that they (CRAN) will come to the party.”
MTC at the press conference also alleged that Telecom Namibia was not utilising its entire spectrum allocation it put at 132 MHz. Telecom Namibia spokesperson Oiva Angula shot back at the allegation, and reminded MTC of Powercom’s acquisition, formely Cell One and Leo and now TN Mobile.
“The comparison made by MTC is to be verified for correctness as another existing spectrum utilising system is Wimax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access). With regard to the amount of spectrum assigned to Telecom Namibia, the figure of 132 MHz provided in the said media release is not supported by the data gazetted by CRAN last year” said Angula.
“Secondly we have bought PowerCom, the only entity in Namibia which paid N$60 million in license fees with further frequency spectrum, which became available to Telecom Namibia with the acquisition.”
Concluded Angula, “it is uncalled for to always cry foul about Telecom Namibia. Operators must learn to fight their own battles and sort things out with the regulator. We are all regulated by the same regulator.”
“We welcome the contribution MTC is making to the data market in Namibia which is so bandwidth hungry. However, we believe that the ultimate broadband network would be a fixed network for urban areas and fixed wireless for rural areas, while mobile voice and data is only for use while traveling” he said as a parting shot.

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