Forget 3G, that's old news. What about 4G and long-term evolution (LTE)? Using the pace at which the information and communications technology sector is innovating globally as a measure, even that will soon be old news.
Instead, prepare to welcome 5G or fifth generation connectivity. 5G is in the pipeline, courtesy of whizz-kids who are working 18 hours a day to bring on-line the technology that will provide data transmission up to several hundred times faster than current networks.
In a recent visit to suppliers in several countries across
As I was being taken around by the young engineers, and told how the 5G technology will allow mobile operators to provide an array of mobile services that require higher speeds, I couldn't help but think just how
I was reminded that in my continent, we have not even rolled out 4G. In fact, in most African countries, 3G remains a dream. Many countries still depend on the second-generation technology of yesteryear.
For me, this was yet another confirmation that unless we move with some sense of urgency,
So what is spectrum and why is it so contentious? According to Wikipedia, spectrum or airwaves are the radio frequencies on which all communication signals travel. In simple terms, when two users talk on cellphones the voice travels on the spectrum. It is the backbone of the mobile communications network.
Telecoms companies acquire spectrum only through auction. They can use it for providing any kind of service, that is, 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G. As the world becomes increasingly wireless, the allocation of the available spectrum to each technology becomes increasingly contentious.
There are hundreds of applications for radio signals, with new ones coming along all the time. Whoever "owns" a frequency band in some geographic area, for example a cellular network provider like MTN, has something of significant commercial value. Unfortunately the allocation of spectrum has become a political minefield.
The reality is that mobile broadband spectrum is vital for
Increased spectrum will lower the cost of mobile devices, improve the speed of data communication, and ultimately help millions of Africans escape poverty.
For example, for sub-Saharan Africa, the
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