Somaliland: Lack of Telecoms Policy and Regulations are Harmful to the Nation


By: Eng. Hassan Muhumed Aw Hassan’

Somalilandsun – In order Telecom operators to make business; having only telecoms equipment is not enough.

They need the Airwave. Without the Airwave (spectrum), they cannot make a penny even if they have the most sophisticated equipment.

The public owns it and the authority has to protect the interest of the public. Radio Spectrum is a precious and scarce resource in the information age. It is this valuable and scarce commodity the Telecoms operators need to be in this business. The Telecoms operators cannot have both ways: 1. not to pay the cost of using publics Airwaves to enrich themselves and 2. To fleece the public of the little money they get. Few people have disposable income.

Somaliland’s based Telecoms operators don’t talk about the tariffs – how much they charge per minute- This information should have been available for the public and the ministry of telecommunication should have been aware of it. According to any telecoms law, no telecoms operator should raise or decrease the tariffs without the approval of the Ministry.

Recently, Somtel unveiled new charge for mobile phone voice and data. Daytime calls 100 minutes/dollar, 300MB/dollar for computers and 150MB/dollar for mobile internet. They said, this is an increase of bandwidth 5 times for the computers and 3 times increase of bandwidth for the mobile phone. Wow, they must be making a lot of money. If we look at the bandwidth, they are offering. Mobile bandwidth is less, because many people has mobile phone. Good business moves for the operator financially, bad for the public’s wallet. 300MB (M. Stands for Mega =1million,B. stands for Byte) will let you download about 40 articles – each article= this one you are reading now-. If you download video, it won’t last you that long. You need to spend more money. The 100 minutes/dollar or 150 minutes/dollar, for voice will be 1 hour, 40minutes and 2hour, 30minutes (media printed both 100m.and 150m for daytime calls, Don’t know which number is right).

We know how much our people love to talk. At least, each of them has to spend $2 a day, which is $60 a month only for voice. Those who browse the internet, they have to spend more money. Multiply it times the population and you will realize how big telecoms business is. Unfortunately our government has no capacity or competence to handle and manage this telecommunications sector.

If you have a smartphone or Laptop and use them for video streaming, social networking, GPS and mapping, which are high bandwidth data services you need more than 150 MB or 300MB. They will last in 2 days. To download an article one page and half, it is 21 to 30 KB (k stands for kilo=1000). If you want to download a song it is 3.5 MB, to download a movie it is 700MB. I wrote these 3 examples to show you how telecoms business is big and the government’s coffin is empty.

The absence of regulation has led to problems with frequency spectrum coordination and interconnection between networks. It created uncompetitive environment and interference among rival signals.

The government has to look into this telecoms sector and come up with strategy. Strategy which will set the stage for policy and regulatory measures which will define any vision agreed upon. This Telecoms sector is too important to ignore it. Our national security and Nation’s development depend on it.

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