Stakeholders Challenge CTO on International Collaboration for Spectrum Allocation

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Emma Okonji

Following the global scarcity of spectrum frequencies, which is already affecting the rollout of broadband and other telecoms services in Nigeria, industry stakeholders have called on the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), to lead the way in international collaboration on spectrum management.

They were of the view that the CTO Secretary-General, Mr. Shola Taylor, who is a Nigerian, undertakes to increase CTO’s efforts in international coordination on spectrum issues.

The Minister of State for Information Technology, Pakistan, Anusha Rahman Ahmad Khan, and the CTO Secretary-General, led calls at the opening day of the Commonwealth Spectrum Management Forum 2017, which took place in London last week.

Although the minister and the CTO Secretary-General spoke extensively on the need for international collaboration for spectrum allocation and management among Commonwealth countries, the forum however, concluded that Taylor, who is the CTO Secretary-General, should raise the issue at International Telecoms Union (ITU) forum, where spectrum allocation and management are being addressed.

The CTO event was convened to enable international bodies, policymakers, telecoms regulators and experts from across the Commonwealth countries, to come together and share experiences in spectrum management.

According to Khan, “As we in Pakistan become more successful in connecting our citizens to the internet, so the demand on the spectrum is increasing. We are also looking to the future deployment of 5G and new technologies, so the use of new bands and spectrum sharing are ideas we will need to initiate. I call on the CTO to lead the way in sharing good practices and bringing different stakeholders together to collaborate.”

Khan was speaking at the leaders’ session on day one of the event alongside Taylor; Minister of Communications, works and labour at Montserrat, Paul Lewis; Director of International Spectrum Policy at Ofcom, Chris Woolford; Vice-President, Regulatory and Market Access at Inmarsat, Fabio Leite; and Director, Spectrum Administration, Nigerian Communications Commission, Austin Nwaulune.

The leaders’ session followed the opening ceremony which was addressed by the Deputy Director, Radiocommunications Bureau at ITU, Mario Maniewicz; Group Director, Dpectrum at Ofcom, Philip Marnick; and the Chief Technology Officer at Inmarsat, Michele Franci.

According to Woolford, “As we move towards 5G, we have the opportunity to manage the spectrum differently. Spectrum sharing is an increasingly viable option, but it requires cooperation. We need to work together across countries, regional borders and industries, in order to find solutions on the sharing of bands.”

Maniewicz said: “With the increasing importance of spectrum to the international community, the structure provided by the WRC and the radio regulations remains of increasing importance to international spectrum management.
“I call on the Forum delegates and all members of the CTO to engage in the regional and Commonwealth discussions leading up to WRC-19 in order to develop consensus and bring together a broad range of nations to a common understanding.”

The theme of the Commonwealth Spectrum Management Forum 2017 was ‘Internet of Things And Basic Broadband Access: Spectrum Implications”, with discussion also covering subjects such as the future of broadcasting and spectrum implications, efficient spectrum utilisation, spectrum auctions, 5G issues and spectrum requirements and planning for the world radiocommunication conference (WRC) in 2019.

The event was hosted by Inmarsat, with industry participants including GSMA, Huawei, Avanti and Facebook.
“The CTO is mandated to coordinate ICT activities across the Commonwealth,” Taylor said in response to the call from Khan.

According to Taylor, “Alongside events such as this Forum, which was convened to facilitate good practices in spectrum management, we also coordinate Commonwealth views for the WRC in order to inform our members of the issues and processes, and also to facilitate wider international agreement at the meeting. We will increase our role in this important area as the international community strives to ensure that spectrum facilitates socio-economic development throughout the Commonwealth.”

Speakers and delegates at the forum, agreed on the need for collaboration in the areas of International processes; Spectrum sharing; Best practices; and Cross-industry.