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Arab states urged to secure new spectrum

GSMA and SAMENA Telecommunications Council say mobile broadband demands require more spectrum

Arab states urged to secure new spectrum
Mobile data traffic growth in the MEA region will be 72% from 2014 to 2019

The GSMA and South Asia, Middle East and North Africa (SAMENA) Telecommunications Council have called on Arab governments to secure more new spectrum for mobile to meet long-term demand for mobile broadband services.

In a statement, the two bodies urged telecoms regulatory authorities across the Middle East to collectively support the allocation of new candidate spectrum bands for mobile. They said that they would make their case at the 2015 ITU World Recommendation Conference (WRC-15), taking place in November.

"Decisive action by governments in the Arab region is required to safeguard the future of mobile broadband and to extend operator investment, employment and public revenues into the future," said Tom Phillips, chief regulatory officer at the GSMA.

"Without the allocation of these new spectrum bands to mobile at WRC-15, mobile operators in the Arab states will not have a clear investment path to support sustainable growth in mobile broadband."

The GSMA cited a recent Cisco study, which says that the Middle East and Africa will have the strongest mobile data traffic growth of any region with a 72% average annual growth rate, increasing 15-fold between 2014 and 2019.

ITU Member States have agreed to tackle this challenge at WRC-15 under agenda item 1.1. The ITU estimates that 1,340-1,960 MHz will be required by 2020 to meet mobile data traffic demand. 

"An international mobile allocation simply provides a national regulator the flexibility to license additional spectrum for mobile when it is required to meet local market demand," said Dr Nasser Marafih, group CEO, Ooredoo and chairman of the SAMENA Council.

"Given that it can take more than a decade to move from the identification of the spectrum to the licensing and launch of mobile services, we would urge governments and regulators in the Arab states to support the new mobile bands and plan now to meet mobile data demand for 2020 and beyond."

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