Namibia: More Delays For Four G


THE delayed launch of MTC's 4G network hit another speed bump on Wednesday evening as the Windhoek City Council deferred a relevant item on the agenda of its monthly meeting. MTC has blamed both the municipality and the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) for the delay in the launch of its 4G network.

MTC first applied to the City in July 2010 for the installation of underground ducts in the city's road reserves for the laying of fibre-optic cables. Another application, for laying underground fibre-optic cables to MTC's cellphone towers in Windhoek, was made on December 12 last year.

According to the agenda for last month's City Council meeting, the council's management committee recommended that permission be granted to the municipality's transportation and information and communication technology departments to negotiate with MTC for the installation the ducts.

However, when the matter came up for discussion, Windhoek Mayor Elaine Trepper passed it on to Agnes Kafula, the chairperson of the council's management committee. According to Kafula, more information is being gathered and the council should not decide on the application yet.

Shortly after MTC's application to the City Council in 2010, Telecom Namibia asked the council not to allow MTC to construct its own "metro fibre ring", arguing that Telecom Namibia already has this infrastructure in place and that it can serve the needs of both MTC and the City. MTC believes that sharing the network would only be a temporary solution, as MTC would need more towers and cables to implement 4G.

MTC managing director Miguel Geraldes informed City CEO Niilo Taapopi in a letter last month that following intervention by Prime Minister Nahas Angula, MTC and Telecom Namibia agreed that MTC would lease "dark fibres" from Telecom Namibia. Six months after the agreement was signed, this has not materialised yet.

MTC and Cran have also been at each other's throats as the mobile service provider has blamed part of the delay in the 4G launch on Cran's unwillingness to issue MTC with a frequency and spectrum use licence.

This too drew the attention of Angula who rapped Cran over the knuckles during the 4G trial last month, saying that MTC had invested N$225 million in 4G technology, which is now seen as a loss due to the delays.

Angula ordered Cran to make the required frequency available to MTC, but in a statement issued last month Cran said that "spectrum is a scarce resource and in high demand, especially the potion of the spectrum which MTC applied for".

"Spectrum that is high in demand must be efficiently managed by Cran and cannot simply be issued at an ad hoc, first-come-first-served basis. It should be defined by a well-supported and well-defined allocation and assignment strategy," Cran said, adding that it is drafting a national frequency band plan which will take into account changes in telecommunications, such as new entrants into the market.