While the local 4G LTE operators are asking government to stop the open auction of 4G complaint spectra, Ghana’s leading 3G operator has hinted that it is ready to roll out 4G mobile technology to provide faster and more reliable voice and data services.
The ICT Chamber, which speaks for the three Broadband Wireless Access (4G LTE) license holders Surfline, Blu and Goldkey has been in the news recently fighting against an upcoming open auction this month of two spectra in the 800MHz band.
They contend that the open auction, if won by any of the multinational 3G players, would deplete the fortunes of the wholly-Ghanaian-owned 4G LTE players, who have invested some US$200million in the past three years but are yet to recoup their investment and make a “handsome returns on their investment” so they need the exclusivity period extended.
They therefore want protection from the government to prevent the “foreigners” in the local telecom industry from getting into the 4G LTE space; and they have actually willing to pay $83million for the available spectra.
But MTN, in a statement contended that “Ghanaians deserve all of the benefits of 4G, and therefore 4G spectrum should be allocated to companies who will aggressively deploy the technology and make it accessible and affordable for broader benefit.
The statement quoted the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Ebenezer Asante as saying, “MTN Ghana is ready to roll out the fourth generation of mobile technology to provide faster and more reliable mobile connectivity in a world where data usage is increasing on a yearly basis.”
He added that “MTN Ghana is ready to lead Ghana to join the growing number of countries in Africa and across the globe who are currently enjoying the full benefits of 4G LTE technology to enhance their personal lives and to grow their businesses and ultimately their economies.
According to Ebenezer Asante, for a company like MTN to sustain and enhance the services it continues to provide to customers, spectrum is a necessity, and that is why the ongoing 800 MHz spectrum assignment is important to MTN for service sustainability and enhancement.
He explained that while the core mobile services provided by MTN are critical, given the role of communications in day-to-day life and business, MTN’s contributions to Ghana go far beyond the provision of those services.
“As an African multinational, the value chain of diverse companies dependent on MTN for sustainability, the services they provide to Ghanaians, the people they employ and the people MTN itself employs directly are a fundamental part of Ghana’s economy and demonstration of MTN’s local perspective,” he said.
Asante noted that beyond the direct and indirect responsibility for keeping 500,000 Ghanaians employed, MTN’s role as the largest taxpayer, combined with enormous investments in healthcare and educational corporate social investments, make MTN an integral part of Ghana’s growth and development.
Furthermore, MTN’s track record of growing its network from a subscriber base of 2.5 million to 15 million in a space of nine years as a result of deliberate strategic network investments demonstrates the company’s focus on ensuring access to technology for Ghanaians and the ability to grow Ghana’s 4G LTE penetration to enable the broadest cross-section of Ghanaians derive the full economic benefits of the technology.
He said the promise of LTE is enormous; the benefits to individuals and businesses are immeasurable, and therefore the core of the discussion must focus on the subscriber and the benefits brought to the user and Ghana as a whole, adding that Ghana must take bold steps in order not to be left behind in the fast growing data revolution.
Indeed, only one of the three licensed 4G LTE players, Surfline, has showed promise by expanding services beyond Accra; Blu is covering just pockets of communities in Accra and Goldkey has not taken off at all over the past three years.
MTN believes technology deployment at an expanded scale, rather than a limited one, makes the services running on that technology more affordable and therefore more accessible to many more people.
“Ghanaians deserve the kind of wide 4G deployment that can positively impact the way people communicate with family and friends and the way businesses operate, and MTN has demonstrated a clear focus on making the relevant investments to bring coverage to the widest cross-section of Ghanaians,” Asante said.