GSMA urges Malaysia to rethink spectrum allocation

KUALA LUMPUR: The Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) is urging the Malaysian Government to adhere to the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity’s (APT) plans for international spectrum harmonisation in the 698MHz to 806MHz band for mobile broadband deployment.

The call is being made following concerns that Malaysia plans to award a large part of this spectrum solely for the deployment of a terrestrial broadcasting technology.

Harmonising spectrum is in line with the APT’s regional plans to ensure that the majority of countries in Asia Pacific will use the same frequency band to deploy Long-Term Evolution (LTE) — the next-generation mobile broadband technology, the association said.

According to the GSMA, by following its own spectrum band plan Malaysia could lose many of the socio-economic benefits that mobile broadband deployment is proven to provide.

It could severely impact the country’s ability to deliver cost-effective mobile broadband connectivity nationwide, stifle new-job creation and dramatically reduce potential increases in GDP (gross domestic product), said Tom Philips, chief government and regulatory affairs officer at the GSMA.

“Failing to harmonise spectrum with neighbouring countries will ultimately result in higher costs for operators and the wider ecosystem, meaning higher prices and uneven mobile broadband coverage for customers,” he said.

According to a Boston Consulting Group report — due to be released at the GSMA’s upcoming Mobile Asia Congress in Hong Kong (Nov 17-18) — deploying mobile broadband services in the 698MHz to 806MHz band could bring much greater economic benefits to this country, rather than be exclusively used for broadcasting services.

The report states that increased Internet adoption across Malaysia, resulting from widespread mobile broadband deployment, is estimated will create more than 44,000 new jobs by 2020, with many in the rural areas.

In contrast, only 2,100 extra jobs would be created if the spectrum was allocated to broadcasting.

Also, the economic opportunities created by improved access to mobile broadband would account for a US$1.1bil (RM3.52bil) increase in GDP and deliver increased tax revenues of US$2.1bil (RM6.7bil) between 2014 and 2020.

If the Government was to take a regionally co-ordinated approach to the use of the 698MHz to 806MHz band, the Malaysian economy and society would enjoy significant benefits from the economies of scale, including reduced handset and equipment costs, added Philips.

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