4.5G technology to face three shortcomings
Sefer Levent - ISTANBUL4.5G will be launched in Turkey on April 1, but there are three main areas in which the technology is problematic in Turkey, according to sector representatives: Base stations, fiber networks and smartphones.
Telecommunications companies have been having a nightmare since the Constitutional Court annulled an article in the Telecom Law in 2009. The court overruled Article 35/a, which states that mobile network equipment is exempted from the Construction Law, ruling that this article should be in the Construction Law instead of the Telecom Law. However, the government has not added the article to the Construction Law until today, allowing some municipalities to take advantage of it. These municipalities, including İzmit, Karasu and Bakırköy, regard base stations on buildings as separate structures and demand a construction permit.
Operators claim that fees demanded for construction permits amount to millions. In short, there either needs to be a change in the Construction Law or necessary regulation needs to be introduced to ensure reasonable rent fees for municipalities.
The driving force of 4.5G is fiber networks. Turkey is experiencing a serious problem with fiber networks, according to several companies in the sector. Telecom companies are also having difficulties when attempting to make new investments with permits, fees and the like. Besides the cost of laying new fiber cables, the bureaucracy is a real headache. Turkey has 250,000 kilometers of fiber networks. But we need regulations on fiber before mobilization as recently mentioned by Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım to increase efficiency in 4.5G and the total length to 500,000 kilometers.
On the sharing of fiber, Türk Telekom has a dominant position in fiber with its network of 206,000 kilometers. Oger Telecom, which acquired the company through privatization, thinks that the sale amount includes the fiber advantage and thus does not want to share this advantage with others. Yıldırım recently supported calls from Turkcell and Vodafone to share the fiber network through a joint company. However, the issues of investment and sharing remain a mystery.
Smartphones are an indispensable part of 4.5G technology. However, only 50 percent of mobile phones are smartphones, meaning that half of mobile subscribers won’t be able to enjoy 4.5G as of April 1. Most smartphones and significant parts of local phones are imported, so they are affected by exchange rates. In addition, we have import taxes to lower consumption. In short, the number of smartphones is not likely to increase in the short term, added sector experts.
Sources also said that the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) demanded operators ask subscribers for approval through a short message to use 4.5G. However, operators want an automatic switch to the technology, claiming that the existing tariffs on subscribers will be maintained.