|Neotel guns for digital dividend|
Friday, 30 October 2009 02:00
Neotel has called on the communications regulator to release the digital dividend as soon as possible, indicating it needs more capacity for its customer base.
Speaking yesterday at hearings on the migration of TV from analogue to digital, the company`s regulatory team told the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) that the sooner the spectrum was released the better.
Broadcasters will not be keen to speed up the process, since they are already concerned that the migration timeframe is tight.
The digital dividend is the spectrum that will become available when the broadcasters move out to occupy their digital allocations. The International Telecommunication Union has earmarked the spectrum, in the 790MHz to 862MHz band, for telecommunications.
Neotel wants the broadcasters off that spectrum as soon as possible so it can bulk up its products in expectation of an increased customer base.
ICASA`s draft regulations and the Department of Communications` (DOC`s) policy document on digital terrestrial migration currently predict different timelines for the process to be completed. The DOC policy has requested the process to end in November next year; however, the regulator and broadcasters say it`s unrealistic and the timeline has been shifted to March 2010.
However, Neotel is unhappy with the fact that the two documents show different times and has requested that the regulator push for a policy change, or align the regulations to the policy.
When the digital dividend is released, it will be highly contested spectrum, especially among the mobile operators, which will possibly try to roll-out 4G services with it. Neotel was the only telco to present at the hearings this week.
The SNO already has spectrum in that band; however, the company says it needs more to accommodate a growing customer base.
Acting ICASA chairman Robert Nkuna asked the second national operator whether the six-month difference between the dates would have a material impact on the company`s business operations.
However, the company declined to answer, although it did indicate it would make a written submission to the council on the matter within the 10-day timeframe stipulated.
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