The year under review was challenging. The landing of the undersea ACE fiber cable posed new dimensions of technical and regulatory challenges in the sector, which required the Commission to accelerate capacity building by way of meeting those challenges. Headed by a Director, the Department is staffed with two Managers for Spectrum and IT Standards respectively; three supervisors and a technician
As mentioned above, the Commission has a responsibility to build the capacity of its staff. In this regard, personnel of the department benefitted from both local and international training. The United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI) and the African Advanced Level Telecommunications Institute (AFRALTI) were two institutes that staff members from the department attended in order to expand their knowledge base. Furthermore, personnel of the department went on a five day working visit to Ghana to gain experience on the issue of the liberalization of the international gateway and SIM card registration during the year under review.
The broad activities of the department included Spectrum Planning, Management and Monitoring, Equipment Type Approval and Quality of Service Measurements.
- Spectrum Planning - Planning continued in 2011 in line with new developments taking place in the sector. Planning generally follows ITU recommendations for various services for Region 1comprising Africa and Europe. Services actually planned for and used are: Mobile voice/data (GSM 900, GSM 1800, CDMA 800, 2.3 GHz, 2.4 GHz, 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz, 1900MHz).
- Spectrum Management and Monitoring - The department in the year under review came up with a pricing formula for various spectra.
- GSM 900, GSM 1800, CDMA 850, CDMA 450 and WiMax bands
|1. Spectrum Fee||= Unit Price * B * K|
|Where B||= Assigned Bandwidth in MHz|
|Where K||= Band Factor|
|Unit price||= $25,000|
|2. For Microwave|
|Price per hop||= Unit Price * F * B * N|
|Where F||= Band Factor|
|B||= Bandwidth Factor|
|N||= Total number of RF Channels|
|Unit Price||= $15|
|1 - 4GHz||1.2|
|10 - 11 GHz||1|
|15 - 18 GHz||0.7|
|19 - 25 GHz||0.5|
This formula ensures the efficient and judicious use of spectrum thus enhancing our ability to manage RF spectrum. Monitoring continued using the spectrum monitoring vehicle. In future, fixed monitoring stations will be installed at four locations around the country. Tests have already been conducted to determine the optimum location for these sites.
- Type Approval - the department type approved a number of equipment for use in Sierra Leone in the year under review. In the absence of a type approval laboratory, tests are not done on equipment. Alternatively, the applicant is required to produce proof of internationally recognized certificates that have been obtained for the products. These are then verified before type approval certificates are issued.
- Quality of Service - This continues to be a challenge as the number of mobile subscribers grows. The department still relies on conducting customer perception surveys. Operators are now required to send all KPI statistics to the Commission which are analysed by staff of the department.
The Department worked closely with the Cyber Security Unit in tracking down illegal operators especially in the area of SIM Box Fraud, SIM Card Registration and unauthorized VSAT operators.
- Analogue to Digital TV Migration
- Cross Border interference
- Notifications to the ITU
- Regulations covering Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) with special reference to monitoring the service for revenue assurance purposes
Notwithstanding these challenges, the Commission and by extension the department of Engineering is optimistic, through capacity building, to tackle these challenges and report favorably at the end of the forthcoming year.