Zimbabwe readies for 5G networks

Dr Gift Machengete

Zimbabwe plans to  allocate additional spectrum for mobile services to raise it to  5G, which is the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, offering faster speeds and more reliable connections.

This comes as telecommunications sector regulator, the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), met with a number of key players last week for the third and final national preparatory meeting for the forthcoming World Radio-communication Conference (WRC-19) — an International Treaty making conference, which will take place in Egypt between October 28 and November 22, 2019.

POTRAZ director general Dr Gift Machengete, told participants that it is critical that they come up with firm national positions on the various issues and items that will be discussed on the agenda of WRC-19.

“WRC-19 represents an important landmark in the development of the Global Radio-communication Sector and is, indeed, a major opportunity for developing nations to ensure that the Radio Regulations are updated and modernised in order for them to better respond to the social, security and developmental needs of the developing world,” said Dr Machengete.

“It is in final preparation of this crucial world event that we meet here today in order for us to crystallise our national positions on the various issues and items that are on the Agenda of WRC-19. There are around 33 topics on the WRC-19 agenda, most of which are relevant if not vital to developing nations of the world — Zimbabwe included.”

World Radio-communication Conferences are responsible for updating the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum as well as the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits. In updating the Radio Regulations, the WRC takes into account the evolution of technologies and practices, and the need to ensure equality among all nations of the world in accessing the finite Global Resource — Spectrum, as well as the need for continued protection for all services that use the Resource.

One of the major highlights of WRC-19 will be the identification of spectrum for 5G.

“It is, therefore, imperative that Zimbabwe and the rest of the developing world push for an Agenda Item for 2023 that would seek the identification of lower and mid-frequencies for use by IMT. Such an identification would provide better coverage and network economics.

“It is important that we find a fine balance on protecting existing services and providing additional spectrum for growing and emerging services,” said Dr Machengete.

Some of the main issues to be discussed at the Conference include, the provision of additional radio frequency spectrum to meet the rapidly growing demand for mobile broadband communications and in particular to meet the spectrum requirements for new generation broadband technologies including IMT 2020, otherwise known as 5G; to consider spectrum needs and regulatory provisions for the introduction and use of the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS), and to take necessary actions, as appropriate, to facilitate global or regional harmonised frequency bands to support railway radio-communication systems between train and track-side within existing mobile service allocations.

The global event will also see the consideration, on the basis of ITUR studies, appropriate regulatory actions for high-altitude platform stations (HAPS), within existing fixed-service allocations; to consider and agree on agenda items for inclusion in the Agenda for WRC 2023

“Given the foregoing it of crucial importance that we adequately prepare for the Conference as the outcomes are expected to be far reaching in shaping the future of our citizens, society and economy at large,” added the POTRAZ boss.

Yesterday’s final preparatory meeting was attended by key stakeholders in radio frequencies spectrum management including engineers from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Econet, TelOne, NetOne, Telco, Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, the University of Zimbabwe, the Office of the President and Cabinet, Airforce of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, and Transmedia among others.