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Cabinet approves shared 4G and 5G network spectrum to sustain internet connectivity

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Ghana’s Cabinet has given approval for the establishment of a shared neutral 4G and 5G networks for all telecommunications operators in the country to enhance Internet connectivity, the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has said.

She said the network would also pave the way for other telecommunication companies to invest in the country.

Briefing Parliament on the internet disruption in the country as a result of damage to the submarine cable, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said “the bigger operators can use it to fill in the gaps so that instead of investing heavily in capital infrastructure that is required, they will invest in the operational expenditure”.

“That is the right way we think we should go, and that is what we are focusing on currently,” she added.

Disruptions

In the early hours of March 14, 2024, the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation and the National Communications Authority (NCA) were notified of disruptions in the Internet, leading to a major loss of services of Telecel and MTN, two major telecommunications operators in the country.

Investigations revealed that there had been multiple undersea cable disruptions that had affected mobile data and fixed data services of the two companies nationwide.

Partnership

With significant digital telecommunication assets of the government, the minister said the government was ready to partner the private sector to deliver the 4G and 5G network.

“The government will not auction the 5G spectrum since it is only one or two companies that can buy such spectrum.

“Auctioning the spectrum will only create more difficult situations for the citizenry with the dominance of one or two telecommunication entity,” she said.

The minister added that there were currently private telecommunication operators that were interested in partnering and building the 5G network infrastructure in the country.

Besides, she said the government had already connected 900 public sector organisations and entities nationwide to a robust network which was also available.

Such infrastructure, the minister added, could be leveraged on National Information Technology Agency infrastructure and rural telephony network to build them up with new technology such as open radio access network which network operators as well as private and public sectors could utilise to get their internet needs.

“I think what has happened has expedited the need to act on getting that network up and running,” she said.

When she was asked how much it would cost for Ghana to build its own internet infrastructure, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful stopped short of giving a specific cost.

“It is in a bid to bring relief to our people that the government is working with the private sector, which is actively investing in rural telephony,” she said.

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