GSMA advocacy for Tanzania spectrum auction

The GSMA has for a long time been carrying out advocacy work in Tanzania to influence auctioning of spectrum by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) and played a key role in the recent development of the auction of 700 MHz spectrum on 8 June. This milestone was welcomed by other industry players such as Vodacom who applauded the positive representation of members by the GSMA. The GSMA made its very persuasive submissions after the Tanzanian government provided a forum for public consultation; a commendable and inclusive approach that allowed stakeholders to give their input on the process. The main operators who benefited from the auction are Vodacom Tanzania PLC and Azam Telecom (T) Limited.

The GSMA recommendations included:

1. Spectrum licenses should be, at a minimum, granted for 20 years to allow investors time to gain a reasonable return on their investment, as well as serving to promote stability and transparency of the overall regulatory framework. Longer license terms also reduce regulatory risk and factor in attracting the level of investment necessary to build networks after license acquisition. The longer the duration of a license, the greater the certainty and incentive provided for operators to undertake long-term investments in rolling out networks and in deploying new services.

2. Instead of setting aside only 2x10MHz of spectrum for future public use, the whole of the 700MHz band should be put up for sale, as the proposed 2x20MHz on offer may not be sufficient to address a market of Tanzania’s dimensions. The proposed spectrum set-aside could create a risk of artificial spectrum scarcity, leading to a loss of competition and potentially limiting market consolidation down the line. Fragmented spectrum holdings can also raise the overall industry cost of service deployment and risk preventing some services from being able to be offered.

The 700 MHz spectrum auction was designed to achieve the National Information Communications and Technology Policy (National ICT Policy).