Is LSA relevant in the developing countries?

Last November, I had the opportunity to attend and be part of the 7th CMI Conference. The conference theme was “Mobile Communications in Developing Countries” and the discussions were quite broad. Quoting the event’s site the conference covered “Issues bordering on, but not limited to mobile markets, regulations, business strategies as well as issues relating to the use of mobile communications for economic, social, and human development…”. It was a great opportunity to learn what is happening in the developing countries, and how the so-called developed countries see and most importantly, act on these issues.

I was born in a developing country (Mexico), and I know how important it is for the region to start taking action on setting a good regulatory framework for the telecom industry. That is why I was keen to know and listen to what the scholars, regulators, and industry people that got together had to say. In my presentation I talked about spectrum, a topic that is hard to see, and harder to understand. The presentation analyzed the possible value of Licensed Shared Access (LSA) in Latin America, and compared it with the value it could bring to Europe. 

Spectrum is a very good topic for discussions. The discussion held after the presentation was quite interesting: On one side we had people that defended the idea and concept of LSA and urged for its adoption. On the other, there were people that understood that, despite the greatness of the concept behind LSA, the market and operators still play a very important role in defining the time for its adoption.

One of the biggest problems LSA, and any spectrum-sharing scheme have to face is the fact that Mobile Network Operators, opt to fully own the spectrum, rather than share it with some other operator, or in this case with a non-telecom player. This makes less valuable the concept behind LSA. Another issue, is that the whole LSA concept has already taken ages to develop properly in order to take off. Meanwhile other (more attractive) alternatives, are starting to being developed, and have more support from both the vendors and the operators. The value of LSA is still quite debatable, and its future is truly questionable.

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