2002-04 spectrum refarming in Sri Lanka praised

Posted on August 21, 2009  /  0 Comments

It was gratifying to see McKinsey picking up on the work that PIPU did in 2002-04 and praising the TRCSL in the regulatory chapter in GITR 2009.

There is a lot more refarming to be done TRC; keep up the good work.

The move toward a more technology- and service-neutral spectrum policy was mainly triggered by a desire to treat all providers equitably, the urging of mobile providers to shift to GSM technology, and the need to use CDMA as a low-cost solution for fixed wireless access in rural areas. Although the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) was constrained to some extent by existing allocations and defense considerations, it issued more spectrum space. The regulator also recognized the problem of scattering spectrum and attempted to streamline allocations while it cleared capacity in the 1800–1900 megahertz range. It did so by embarking on a thorough industry consultation process that involved difficult negotiations with stakeholders in the industry, which included different compensation schemes for spectrum refarming. Decisive action by the TRCSL resulted in the fair allocation of spectrum to incumbent and new operators alike, and helped the rapid proliferation of wireless technologies, proving that a forward-looking approach to spectrum management can help to increase the penetration of mobile services and mobility in general in developing countries.

Minister Milinda Moragoda who steadfastly supported the refarming process so that the rural waiting list could be cleared, the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who took a personal interest in telecom reforms, the TRC officers who participated in the process and who used the public consultation process, and of course the operators deserve the praise. The TRC Chairman who took over in November 2003 and slowed the process deserves none.

Before refarming, we had over 380,000 on a waiting list. Now there are none. By that test, refarming has served the people well.

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