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On 17 June 2020, APC collaborated with the ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development) Research Centre at Bahir Dar University, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Internet Society Ethiopia Chapter, the Internet Society and the Network for Digital Rights in Ethiopia to submit a contribution to the draft Telecommunications Licensing Directive No. 1/2020. In the contribution, we recommend that the Ethiopian Communications Authority (ECA) consider international recommendations, as well as best practices in other countries both regionally and globally. This includes:

  • Creating a licensing framework for telecommunications operators that considers the neutrality of technology, layer separation and scale sensitivity, as well as licence exemptions for complementary access solutions such as community networks, as well as those covered by a Social Purpose Licence.

  • Developing an innovative, transparent and accessible spectrum licensing scheme that enables complementary local infrastructure solutions, such as community networks and access to radio spectrum for network service delivery. Some examples are:

    • A licence exemption framework for the use of the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) spectrum, which is the one used by Wi-Fi and is exempted worldwide.

    • Provisions within national IMT spectrum licences that affirm the right of the regulator to grant additional authorisations to allow the use of licensed spectrum in underserved areas.

    • Social purpose licensing of IMT spectrum in rural areas.

    • Dynamic spectrum management approaches allowing secondary use of spectrum such as TV white space technology.

    • Innovative approaches to licensing fees to work towards closing the global digital divide.

It is always appreciated when regulators carry out consultative practices so that civil society organisations can contribute to directives like the Telecommunications Licensing Directive No. 1/2020. We hope the ECA considers our input, which is not only based on international best practices, but we also believe it will assist the ECA in developing a telecommunications regulatory system that responds to the needs of Ethiopian citizens.

The submission can be downloaded here.