Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

4G/5G

Wholesale Open Access Mobile Networks Don't Work – GSMA

Article Image
The wholesale open access network (WOAN) approach to building and running mobile networks doesn't work, while infrastructure-based network competition has a proven track record.

That's the conclusion of a new report, Wholesale Open Access Networks, by industry body the GSM Association (GSMA) , which represents and lobbies on behalf of mobile network operators and which, it is abundantly clear, is dead set against wholesale open access 4G networks.

And in seeking to prove its point, and discourage the development of 4G wholesale open access networks, the GSMA has highlighted WOAN efforts in Africa, citing Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa as markets where this approach has failed to meet the needs of the mobile service provider community.

The GSMA says it studied five markets (the three African countries plus Mexico and Russia) where plans for WOAN -- also known as single wholesale network (SWN) -- rollouts were announced, and found that only one network was actually built, while the other four markets were "plagued by slow progression and delayed and/or cancelled launches."

According to the report: A planned single wholesale network for 4G in Kenya was not implemented and appears to have been abandoned; South Africa has produced a white paper proposing a public-private partnership involving multiple parties, an "unproven model," according to the GSMA; and a single wholesale network was built in Rwanda in 2014, in a partnership between the government and South Korean operator KT, but that 4G coverage objectives have not been met, the network is not being used very much because of high prices and no new virtual network operators have opted to use the network. (In Russia, the plans faltered and operators built their own 4G networks, while in Mexico a plan has been agreed but the network is years behind schedule).

"Policymakers in countries considering a move to a wholesale open access network for 4G services may believe they can achieve greater network coverage compared with models that rely on network competition. However the research published today demonstrates that this is not the case," stated John Giusti, chief regulatory officer at the GSMA, in a prepared statement. "We have found that network competition produces faster and more extensive network coverage, and the examples highlighted in the report indicate little evidence that a SWN/WOAN is likely to achieve this."

John Giusti, chief regulatory officer at the GSMA: 'We are concerned that a move to wholesale networks will harm consumers.'
John Giusti, chief regulatory officer at the GSMA: "We are concerned that a move to wholesale networks will harm consumers."

He added: "We are concerned that a move to wholesale networks will harm consumers, as history has demonstrated that network monopolies normally result in high prices and lower investment in infrastructure … With this in mind, we call upon governments looking to implement a SWN or WOAN to instead support the ability of mobile operators to enter into infrastructure sharing agreements on a voluntary basis and consider how they can apply market-friendly spectrum assignment methods to maximise coverage, using appropriate spectrum license conditions to extend mobile services to underserved areas."

In the report, the GSMA states its position very clearly: "Some supporters claim that these [WOAN/SWN] networks will deliver greater coverage than market competition can. However, those making this claim often gloss over the fact that in order to be built, the SWN or WOAN require significant public subsidies and other forms of support which are typically not available to competing network operators. The GSMA believes that network competition can and does deliver mobile network coverage. In areas where building networks is uneconomic there are other approaches. They include voluntary network sharing that can facilitate coverage in a particular area."

The report can be accessed here.

— The staff, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

Safaricom launches M-Pesa 'super app'

Safaricom has launched its long-awaited M-Pesa 'super app' with new features like offline mode as well as mini-apps within the app.

Story

Hot startup of the month: Nigeria's Bankly

Nigerian startup Bankly is digitizing cash for people who work in the informal sector and helping unbanked Nigerians save money, invest and gain access to credit and other financial services.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: May 2021

By Omdia Analysts

This month, Omdia's analysts provide context and analysis about new licenses for operators in Ethiopia and Uganda, and Nigeria's 5G rollout plans.

Story

Omdia View: April 2021

By Omdia Analysts

This month, Omdia's analysts provide context around Ethiopia's telecoms licensing process, Millicom's plans to exit Tanzania and Ghana, and Airtel Africa's successful capital raise.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

AfricaCom perspectives

Story

Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

Story

Accelerating women in STEM: In conversation with GirlCode's Tinyiko Simbine

GirlCode co-founder and CFO Tinyiko Simbine talks about why it's important to help girls and young women excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Story

How Poa Internet is unlocking meaningful connectivity in East Africa

Poa Internet's CEO Andy Halsall shares his views on what it takes to develop last-mile connectivity and get Africans online in a meaningful way.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

North Africa Com
July 13-14, 2021
Virtual Event
Asia Tech x Singapore
July 13-16, 2021
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Africa Tech Festival
November 8-12, 2021
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Flash poll

All polls

Archived webinars

Technologies and business models to connect the next billion

Nearly half the planet remains unconnected at a time when COVID-19 has forced people’s reliance on the Internet and digital technologies higher than ever before. Bridging the digital divide to provide Mobile Internet access – the main driver of digital inclusion – is exceedingly important in the current context. Overcoming this connectivity crisis represents a growth opportunity for Mobile Network Operators (MNO) to expand their services outside of the crowded, highly competitive urban markets.

In this webinar we will focus on solutions that help MNOs close both the coverage gap and the usage gap.

Key topics include:

  • What are the barriers to overcome increased Mobile Internet adoption?
  • How to match deployments cost with expected revenue?
  • Operator success story

More Webinars

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up