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Decision not to auction 5G spectrum is to improve data access – Ursula



Decision not to auction 5G spectrum is to improve data access – Ursula

The Minister for Communication and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has defended the government’s decision not to auction the newly rolled out 5G network.

The government in May 2024, announced a collaboration with active industry players, including Ascend Digital, K-NET, Radisys, Nokia, Tech Mahindra, and other telecommunications companies to roll out 5G in the next six months.

The Communication Minister, in an exclusive interview on Monday, June 24, intimated that the government has learned its lesson from the auctioning of the 4G spectrum to MTN, which she said virtually kicked out the other network operators.

“Government sold spectrum to local operators to do broadband on the understanding that they would be given exclusivity in that space, while mobile network operators did voice and procured data services from them [broadband operators] if they wanted to give those data services to their subscribers.

“After promising them exclusivity, we went ahead and auctioned the 4G to these same big players, who MTN then acquired the spectrum because it has so much more financial muscle than these local entities and so MTN cornered the market. At the price the spectrum was pegged at the time, it was only MTN that could buy it and that made it possible for them to corner the high-speed data market and blow the rest of the operators out of the market.”

She added that the need to fairly distribute data access featured prominently in the government’s decision.

“Monopoly in data services is not good in the way in which all economies are evolving and the need for data to conduct all businesses that we require. No matter whichever sector you are in, you need some amount of internet access to do your work and so all those were factors that led to the decision not to auction the 5G network but to provide a shared infrastructure for all the network operators and even new entrants.”

Source: CNR

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