ICT Africa Headline News

Experts Call for Use of Unlicensed Spectrum for Rural Internet in Nigeria

23 June, 2014

Source: CIO East Africa

Information and communications technology stakeholders have urged federal to make available more unlicensed spectrum for the provision of broadband internet in the rural areas.

According to Nigeria Communication Week, unlike licensed spectrum, with its significant regulatory oversight and high costs to obtain and build a usable service, unlicensed spectrum offers accessible spectrum to entrepreneurs with fewer resources, which facilitates innovation. Users of unlicensed spectrum do not have to buy the spectrum, and are more easily able to experiment and deploy products with minimal regulatory oversight.

Lanre Ajayi, president, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), said that spectrum ordinarily, should be unlicensed because it is limited resources.

According to Ajayi, unlicensed spectrum is used for the benefit of the people and need not to be given commercial value. He cited Wi-Fi which according to him is an unlicensed frequency that smartphones and laptops use for internet connectivity at hotspots.

"Government should make available more frequencies as unlicensed for use in the rural areas in the provision of broadband internet just as United States is doing", he stated.

Nodding in agreement, Mohammed Rudman, managing director, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) said that unlicensed spectrum could be deployed in small communities for internet connectivity.

Unlicensed spectrum such as Industrial Scientific Medical (ISM) bands operating on 2.4 ghz among others, are mostly used by university community and research centres among others.

"Presently, such unlicensed frequency is being used in some towns in Jigawa and Kano states to provide internet connectivity within those towns," Rudman added.

Elswhere, Chima Onyekwere, chairman, Linkserve, a pioneer internet service provider, said that unlicensed spectrum has been proven over time to be stable in service provisioning.

Onyekwere said it also suitable for providing internet connectivity in rural areas, but noted that such spectrum are not designed for profit making which means that for it to be made available for rural broadband internet, government needs to subsidize it for the operators.

He added that unlicensed frequencies cannot propagate very far because they are higher which make them suitable for community connectivity.

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