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GSMA calls on Gulf states to release spectrum

Spectrum vital for job creation in Arab States, says GSMA

Arab states including KSA must release spectrum for mobile broadband to avoid hindering economic development.
Arab states including KSA must release spectrum for mobile broadband to avoid hindering economic development.

The GSMA has called on Arab States to release the spectrum necessary for seamless LTE services and to allow mobile technology to help stimulate the region's economies and create jobs.

The GSMA pointed out the ability of mobile to stimulate economic growth, but also stressed that growth could be severely restricted if governments fail to give the sector the spectrum required to cater to soaring demand for mobile broadband.

Mobile broadband connections across the Arab States are expected to increase by a staggering 255% by 2017, rising to 142 million, from 40 million in 2011, reflecting the enormous appetite for mobile broadband services. Mobile broadband connections have already outstripped fixed-line connections by over 350%.

However, to extend mobile penetration and capacity, as well as reap the associated economic benefits, governments in the region urgently need to deliver adequate spectrum in line with internationally and regionally harmonised spectrum bands, including the Digital Dividend, 2.6GHz and 1.8GHz bands.

The release of additional spectrum could raise the region's combined GDP by $108 billion between 2015 and 2025, and create 5.9 million additional jobs by 2025, according to the study.

Harmonisation of spectrum bands would further lead to economies of scale for device manufacturers, which in turn would give more consumers access to affordable mobile technology.

"Mobile communications in the Arab States have transformed society and fostered substantial growth in investment, innovation and productivity," said Tom Phillips, chief government and regulatory affairs officer, GSMA. "However, there are far greater opportunities that the mobile industry can deliver for the region.

Governments need to take action now to increase spectrum availability and stabilise the regulatory environment if they want to continue the momentum and realise mobile's full potential."

To highlight the effects of mobile on regional economies so far, the GSMA pointed out that mobile connections grew by 32% over the past 10 years, reaching 391 million in 2012, up from soaring from 19 million connections in 2002.

The rapid pace of mobile adoption has delivered substantial economic benefits for the region, directly contributing $132 billion to the economies of the Arab States, or approximately 5.5% of total GDP, in 2011.