World Telecom Labs urges rural African grid development

Monday 8 May 2017 | 13:28 CET | News

World Telecom Labs has called on regulators to use Universal Service Fund money to build wholesale networks in rural Africa, and to reallocate unused spectrum for these networks.  With infrastructure sharing now common across the continent, WTL firmly believes that the removal of the capex cost of building a rural network will enable regulators to pressure previously reluctant operators to start offering services in these areas.

Despite the ongoing efforts of initiatives such as internet.org, the Alliance for Affordable Network, Facebook's Freebasics and The Telecom Infra Project, the GSMA estimates that mobile penetration was still only 44 percent in 2016, with two thirds of the population in Africa living in rural areas where capital-intensive infrastructure deployment is commercially unviable.

WTL said its already working in three countries in Africa to build wholesale rural networks and is currently conducting a survey to identify some of the key technological factors preventing the development of such grids there.

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