Head of Wireless Regulatory Policy for Africa at Huawei Technologies, Cesar Guiterez is urging telecom regulators on the continent to stagger licensing fees payment for spectrum compatible with 5G technology.
He argued that telecom operators on the continent would need their funds in the short-term to invest into deploying 5G for greater public benefit, then regulators can take their licensing fees as the telcos begin to recoup their investments.
Guiterez was speaking in a virtual forum on 5G in Accra, jointly organized by Huawei Technologies Ghana and the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT), of which Huawe became a member this year.
He said: “instead of charging a one-off licensing fee for 5G spectrum upfront, it will serve a better purpose for regulators to spread the payment over a period. It is in the interest of every country for operators to invest into quick deployment and serve the public and pay the licensing fee over time.”
Guiterez said this suggestion has been the global clarion call by all industry players on regulators, adding the “we are not too sure if they will accept our suggestion, but at least we know they get the logic.”
He stated that 5G spectrum is most likely to be cheaper than 4G spectrum, adding that given the huge leftover spectrum from the 2G, 3G and 4G regimes, it would be good for regulators to grant techneutrality and allow operators to re-farm those leftovers to deploy 5G technology.
Huawei has suffered a backlash in their attempt to deploy 5G in a number of countries. It began with the United States of America, where it has been completely banned mainly for political reasons – then United Kingdom, Singapore, India and other countries followed.
The company has since turned to Africa and is leading the discussion around 5G and IoT (internet of things) on the continent, even though most African countries are still grappling with the deployment of 4G technology and operators are yet to recoup their investments into 4G.
Asked if he thought Africa was really ready for 5G, he acknowledged that it is true that 4G has not been deployed enough in Africa but given the overwhelming relative benefits 5G offers, “it is not too early for African countries to start looking at 5G now.”
Speaking of the benefits of 5G, he noted that it is not a secret that the doctor patient ratio is Africa is a sad commentary, but with 5G, Africans can, for instance, have access to medical professionals from other parts of the world via augmented reality, even for life-saving surgeries and administration of medication.
Africa is always late in rolling out modern technology, but the Southern Africa Regional Director for Huawei, Yung Hu Je said under Huawei’s “Tech4All” project, the company is determined to ensure that, this time round, Africa is not left behind to play catch up in the digital revolution 5G promises.
He said Huawei has a lot of patents for the rollout of 5G across the world and they are determined never to leave anyone behind, adding that the company has the requisite knowledge, infrastructure and experience to ensure that Africa stands tall in the deployment and application of 5G.
“We are therefore engaging the industry players and other stakeholders to know how they intend to deploy 5G in Ghana to benefits every community and individual so that Huawei can tailor-make solutions to meet the country’s specific needs,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Managing Director at Huawei Ghana, Kwaku Essuman Quansah said 5G is expected to have a significant impact on the global economy, adding that it is projected to generate US$2.1 trillion in global GDP alone, and Ghana must not be left out of the benefits.
He said with enhanced mobile broadband, 5G will make “our smartphones perform even better with other immersed experiences like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)”
According to him, mission critical communication, due to the ultra-low latency will enhance integration with vertical industries such as supply chain and medical supplies among others, while massive IoT will connect everything in the near future.
He said 5G promises to give a boost to the entertainment and media industries by enabling the coverage of live events even without the outdoor broadcast (OB) van and also create more jobs like “we have YouTubers and bloggers” as professions today.
Kwaku Essuman Quansah thinks 5G is not as far off as some may think, adding that industry operators need to start preparing for it because it is expected that the go to market period for 5G will be considerable shorter than that of 4G.
“Let’s start getting Ghana ready now for 5G,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of GCT, Dr. Ing. Ken Ashigbe believes 5G presents an opportunity for the developing world to leapfrog the developmental gap particularly on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic that has propelled the world even deeper into the virtual platform.
He said there is no telling what massive opportunities 5G presents to the various sectors – education, health, agriculture, science, entertainment and others, but what is important is to get Ghana ready to take advantage of those opportunities.
“We need to align our policies for spectrum allocation, education, agriculture, science, health, entertainment and what-have-you so that we can take full advantage of 5G when it comes to Ghana. But if we maintain the same policies and 5G comes we will be left behind,” he argued.