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Quick adoption of 700Mhz for 4G will boost M'sia's GDP
Publication Date : 14-10-2013
The earlier the Malaysian government adopts the 700 megahertz (Mhz) spectrum for 4G/LTE (long-term evolution), the faster it would create economic and social impact to the country.
Chris Perera, the senior director of the Global System for Mobile Communications Association, spectrum policy and regulatory affairs Asia-Pacific, said: “A study done earlier indicated that if Malaysia were to adopt the 700Mhz for 4G, the economic opportunities created would be expected to generate an increase of US$17 billion to Malaysia’s gross domestic product between 2014 and 2020,” she told StarBiz.
In addition, Perera said, the adoption of the Asia Pacific Telecommunity 700Mhz (APT 700) for 4G would create 50,000 jobs by 2020, while the government’s revenue is expected to increase by $1.3 billion. The APT 700 defines 700Mhz for LTE usage.
Malaysia had recently said it would allocate the 700Mhz band for 4G, although the timeline was not made known. For now the 700Mhz has been allocated for broadcasting.
Many countries, including Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America and the United States, have adopted the band for 4G.
According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, LTE networks are expected to cover 60 per cent of the population in the Asia-Pacific by 2017 if the APT 700 is assigned to mobile operators to foster the adoption of 4G in Asia.
“The harmonisation of the 700Mhz band would ensure that Asia-Pacific countries used the same frequency to deploy 4G. This would drive large economies of scale, and reduce capital and equipment costs. It would also provide significant social benefits, particularly in rural areas not served by fixed broadband,” Perera said.
Admittedly, she said it would not be easy for the government to migrate digital TV broadcasting to a lower spectrum to free up the APT 700 for 4G.
“There is a lot of planning needed. They need to migrate the analog broadcasting to digital on a lower spectrum. They would need a clear plan, such as educating the public on the migration to digital TV and potentially some form of subsidy for the rural people on the set top box.
“There’s a need to have clear timelines for 700Mhz availability,” she said.
Asked if the spectrum should be auctioned, Perera believes that there should be consultation with all the stakeholders on whether they preferred an auction or the current allocation through a beauty contest.
She explained that the 700Mhz would be cost and capital-effective. “The 2,100Mhz is four times higher (in term of towers) than 900Mhz and seven times higher than 700Mhz,” Perera said, adding that the 700Mhz band could deliver both cost-efficient indoor and rural coverage.
Basically, the 700Mhz requires fewer transmission towers to build and maintain as well as reducing the number of base stations needed to broadcast the network, thereby producing more cost savings.
Generally, Perera said telcos needed at least 10Mhz in the 2,100Mhz band for 3G, 10Mhz in 1,800Mhz and 7.5Mhz in the 900Mhz band to be able to have good coverage.
Service providers, she said, would need a combination of both lower and higher band for voice and capacity as an operation.
Going forward, Perera expects service provides to share their infrastructure. The regulator has also been calling for the industry to share infrastructure.