In a bid to extend internet access to rural areas, the National Communications Authority (NCA) has asked Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) with existing 2G licenses to deploy Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (3G technology) for the job. This would enable MNOs to increase data or internet accessibility to folks in unserved and underserved communities across the country. The deployment of 3G technology would be carried out using 900MHz frequency band, which was originally assigned for the deployment of 2G services in the country.
Speaking at a media conference in Accra, on Thursday, to explain the new initiative, Mr. Joe Anokye, the Acting Director-General of the NCA, said the deployment of 3G technology would make it easier for MNOs to expand their data coverage to mobile phone users 15 kilometers away from their base stations with minimum costs.
He said: “Communication is essential for development so ultimately this will go a long way to support government initiatives to bring development to the rural areas.”
He said the NCA would implement this initiative in collaboration with the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications, which was aimed at promoting digital inclusion.
Mr. Anokye said with the NCA’s new regulatory decision, the 2G licensed MNOs could now deploy 3G technology, which would enable their clients have access to data or internet.
“The benefits of allowing telcos to deploy UTMS are, particularly, beneficial to consumers. With this, we will be promoting digital inclusion in Ghana and in the process customers in unserved and underserved areas will see the immense benefits, especially as they see improvement with their access to data and data services.
“Additionally, this will lead to a maximization of spectrum use, it will lead to enhanced consistent 3G user experience and reduce 3G coverage black spots,” he explained.
Mr. Anokye noted that the technology would also introduce choice and competition for the customer, while increasing data penetration, improved spectral efficiency and improve handover problems.
“So you can tell that at the heart of this decision is the consumer and we will monitor the UTMS deployment to ensure that all these benefits that have been penned down for the ultimate benefit of the consumer come to fruition, “he emphasized.
Mr. Anokye said MNOs were not required to apply for new licenses, but only submit application for authorization, adding that, the Authority had waived the application and authorization fees or charges.
He said the authorization would be for the unexpired term of the applicant’s 2G license.
The National Communications Authority was established by an Act of Parliament, Act 524 in 1996, which has been repealed and replaced by the National Communications Authority Act, 2008 (Act769).
The Authority is the statutory body mandated to license and to regulate electronic communication activities and services in Ghana.