Turkey has yet to roll out LTE as it awaits spectrum allocation. Dr. Mustafa Aykut, International Affairs and Policy Coordinator for Türk Telekom talks us through some of the complex issues and explains his objections to the EU banning roaming charges.
Dr. Aykut, is taking part in a panel discussion entitled: “Assessing successful and innovative deployment strategies”, taking place on Day Two of the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 23rd-26th June 2014, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands.
What are the main challenges of rolling out LTE in Turkey?
Currently, there is no roadmap regarding spectrum related actions for LTE roll-out as 800 MHz band will not be cleared until June 2015. Furthermore, problems associated with the unfair allocation of GSM bands continue to have an impact. The fair allocation of existing bands is a prerequisite for LTE launch and technology-neutral use of spectrum.
Internet security is an issue that is always high on the agenda. Do you think that operators should be doing more to protect their customers?
In Turkey, all ISPs operate in accordance with the regulations set by the regulation authority, ICTA, with regards to internet security related issues. However, it is important for operators to raise awareness among users about internet security to ensure the safety of their customers and their information.
To what extent should infrastructure sharing be something that should be considered in more markets to lower deployment costs?
Infrastructure sharing can be an effective means to decrease investment and contribute to sustainable use of national resources. Infrastructure sharing models and the role of government should be discussed comprehensively with all related parties as a part of national broadband strategy.
In Turkey, an extensive infrastructure sharing model is actually being used to ensure mobile coverage in residential areas where the population is less than 500. One of the operators is building the infrastructure and others will be able to share this. The cost of establishing the infrastructure will be covered from the government’s Universal Service Fund. This model could be further explored for LTE coverage.
Can more be done to harmonise spectrum across borders in order to deliver the benefits of economies of scale for equipment and simplify roaming?
It is important that additional spectrum resources are identified and allocated for mobile. The ITU is working on spectrum harmonization and more discussions on this in the coming World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) are anticipated.
What’s your view on the war on roaming charges from EU Digital commissioner Neelie Kroes?
Studies show that the elimination of roaming charges as set out in the Connected Continent Regulation of 2013 could cost Europe up to €7 billion by 2020. This is why the recent vote taken in the Plenary of the European Parliament is disconcerting as it fails to meet some of the key objectives laid out by Kroes. With this vote Europe will be moving further away from its long standing position as a leader in growth, job creation and competitiveness. Changes in roaming, in addition to harmonization and the Open Internet will not only create a level of uncertainty but place considerable burden on the already troubled EU telecoms sector. The upcoming period will be crucial for EU decision makers to ensure Europe’s digital economy continues to generate innovation and high-quality services. Unless the significant corrections mentioned are made during the legislative process, innovation and creativity will be stifled with additional layers of regulation. Though Ms Kroes’ proposed framework undoubtedly intends to enhance infrastructure-based competition in the long-term, the short and mid-term implications must also be weighed with caution.
What are you most looking forward to with regard to the LTE World Summit?
LTE is a technology in transition. Though it is widely used in only a fraction of the world, the majority of the global population is unable to take advantage of its privileges. Before we move to 5G deployment, I believe summits such as this one are critical for wider LTE adoption and stabilization.
The 10th annual LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 23rd-26th June 2014, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.