In the face of regulatory constraints and bureaucratic delays in some countries, it’s worth highlighting ways in which governments are supporting telecommunications by enabling or encouraging rollout, most recently in Colombia and Vietnam.
Earlier this week, Colombia’s Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications announced that the country’s president had signed into law a new decree substituting certain spectrum payment fees for an obligation to extend mobile broadband coverage to some of the country’s most remote rural areas.
While this imposes certain constraints on operators, it may also ease the cost penalties of bringing mobile broadband to what the ministry refers to as ‘the vulnerable, low-income rural population’ as well as libraries, schools and health centres in hard-to-reach areas.
Meanwhile, in Vietnam there are hopes for an accelerated 5G rollout after four mobile network operators signed an agreement to share over 1,200 base transceiver stations. Again there was a government initiative behind this move. In November last year the Ministry of Communications published a directive on the sharing of passive technical telecommunications infrastructure among operators.
The ministry has been quoted as saying that the deal will allow the four operators – Viettel, VNPT-Vinaphone, MobiFone and GTel Mobile – to reduce deployment infrastructure costs. It will also, says the ministry, promote the rollout of 5G networks. Vietnam began trialling 5G in May this year, and intelligence solutions company Fitch has predicted that commercial services could launch by mid-2020.
This isn’t the first such agreement in the country. In May two operators – VNPT-Vinaphone and MobiFone – agreed to share infrastructure at 700 locations.
Such trends will be welcome if they enable faster and wider availability of mobile communications. Government support for asset sharing in particular could have a significant effect on rollout. As we reported yesterday, new rules in the Philippines aim to simplify the permit process for constructing new towers, as well as encouraging operators to share infrastructure. Sharing deals or rule changes have also been in the news in markets as varied as Brazil, Malaysia, China and Zimbabwe.