This conference has now taken place. Keep an eye out here for updates on a future event!
The 7th Sub-Sahara Spectrum Management Conference took place in a hybrid format on 3 & 4 November 2022 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, South Africa.
The event gathered key stakeholders to discuss topical issues relating to the management and coordination of spectrum policy across the region. During the 2 days attendees had the opportunity to get involved and engage through interactive sessions, networking opportunities, exhibition area and much more.
The conference is part of The Global Spectrum Series. The world’s largest collection of regional spectrum policy conferences
To help set the scene for the event and identify some concrete aims and objectives, keynote speakers will be asked as part of their presentation to give an overview of what they see as the key spectrum challenges and opportunities for the region; and on what they feel should be the spectrum targets for the region in the short, medium and long term. These presentations will then be followed by an interactive voting session, where both in-person and virtual attendees will be asked to add their thoughts on these 2 questions, before a panel discussion involving key industry and policy voices is held to address the points that have been raised, and to look at the best way forward to deliver a spectrum strategy that works for Africa.
Despite the challenging environment created by the global pandemic, preparations for WRC-23 are progressing well. Both within Africa and elsewhere in Region 1, positions are starting to emerge and good progress on preparatory studies is being seen. And now, less than a month after this event, the second inter-regional workshop is due to be held, providing the latest opportunity for different regions to come together to discuss these emerging positions. This session will provide the opportunity to take stock in the build-up to that meeting and at the progress on preparation that is being made both in Africa and elsewhere. As we move towards the final year of preparation for WRC-23, it will discuss the challenges ahead and the work that still needs to be done to ensure a successful outcome for WRC-23 for the Sub-Sahara region and more broadly.
At each of the last 4 editions of this conference, a session has been held that has charted the progress, challenges and opportunities as Sub-Sahara embarks on the path to 5G and looks to deliver a harmonized continental strategy that will help to unleash its true potential. Continuing the discussion, this session will look at the work that has taken place over the last 12 months to build on crucial policy recommendations that were set out last year by ATU, and the work that is being done at a regional level by the African Union Commission. With 5G now a reality in Africa and networks starting to be rolled out across countries including Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, how can the goal of regional harmonisation be achieved, and what impact can this have on laying the ground for the full potential of 5G to be seen?
African countries proposed at WRC-19 to study the identification of 6425-7125 MHz for IMT. The proposal is on the agenda of WRC-23.In July last year, a recommendation was made by ATU to enable licence-exempt technologies to operate in 5925-6425 MHz. Globally There is a debate on the balance of unlicensed and licensed services in the 5925-7125 MHz band. The IMT community argues that broadband connectivity in Africa is largely provided through mobile networks, and this band would provide additional capacity for 5G and for fixed wireless access in the future. On the other hand the WiFi community argue that making it available on a licence-exempt basis is vital to help addressing the digital divide, improving rural connectivity and accelerate economic innovation. This session will look at the arguments on both sides, and at where the balance of licenced and licence-exempt use across the 6Ghz band should lie.
● Where does the balance lie between licenced and licence-exempt use across the 6Ghz spectrum?
● What is the status of the WRC-23 preparations and what should be the approach of the Sub-Sahara region to the upper portion of the band?
● What socio-economic benefits would be offered by making the spectrum in the band available on an unlicenced or a licensed basis respectively? What approach would provide the best option to maximise these benefits across both developed and developing countries in the Sub-Sahara region?
● To what extent is co-existence between incumbent and potential new users such as WiFi and 5G feasible? What are some potential challenges would this present and how could these be overcome?
● Is there a solution that would ensure that sufficient spectrum in the band is available for both WiFi and IMT users?
The process of bringing spectrum to market is not a simple one, and there are many different elements for regulators to consider when looking to design a process for assigning spectrum licences that ensures an efficient allocation of the available bandwidth at a fair price; and ultimately delivers a competitive market and encourages innovation. With a number of successful awards having taken place recently in the region, this session will provide the opportunity to look back at these and at the approaches that were taken. It will then move on to look more broadly at the different options that are available to regulators when looking at setting spectrum prices and designing award mechanisms, and at what needs to be done in order to ensure a successful outcome. Focussing on the importance of planning ahead and the role that the provision of a roadmap for spectrum release can play in helping to provide regulatory certainty and promote investment and innovation, it will look to the future and at what needs to be done to ensure that the full value of spectrum that is made available can be harnessed as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
In March this year, ICASA successfully completed an auction of key spectrum bands, with six bidders paying a total of R14 billion for licences across the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands. This session will offer a unique ‘360 degree’ case study of the auction and award process, with perspectives from the regulator responsible for the auction; the experts advising on design and strategy; and operators who took part and were successful in securing spectrum.