Forget 3G, that's old news. What about 4G and LTE (Long Term Evolution)? Using the pace at which the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) 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 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
In fact, the engineers have already developed the prototypes of 5G. This technology will deliver services, including video mail and multiplayer gaming; this just as most African markets are still struggling to launch 2G, let alone 3G.
As I was being taken around by the young engineers, and told how the fifth generation technology will allow mobile operators to provide an array of mobile services that require higher speeds, I couldn't help but think just how
Struggling to roll out 4GI was reminded that in my own continent, we have not even rolled out 4G. In fact, in most African countries, 3G remains a dream. Many countries are still depending on the 2G of yester-year.
For me, this was yet another confirmation that unless we move with some sense of urgency,
What I witnessed in those countries is that other nations and societies are not waiting for us. Together with our political leaders, particularly regulators, we spend a lot of time debating and haggling over whether a 3G licence and spectrum should be awarded, and how much it should cost.
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 mobile phones the voice travels on the spectrum. It is the backbone of mobile communications network.
Telecom companies acquire spectrum only through auction. They can use it for providing any kind of service, ie, 2G, 3G, 4G and 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
Our governments must act now to release the much-needed spectrum mobile broadband. Increased spectrum will lower the cost of mobile devices, improve speed of data communication, and ultimately help millions of Africans escape poverty.
For example, for sub-Saharan Africa, the
However, if the release of spectrum is delayed by five years, then these benefits would fall to
Action required For example, what the research shows for sub-Saharan Africa alone is that action is required now to secure the future connectivity and economic empowerment of
The truth is that while
Basic mobile technology has delivered very well in our markets. The fact that over 50 per cent of people on the African continent and in the
A surge in demand for internet access and broadband capabilities is driving these developments further. Several international submarine fibre cables like the West Africa Cable System are delivering the necessary bandwidth to
Overall, the continent's telecoms future loo
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