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BOTSWANA

  • "Botswana's telecommunications market outlook is bright," Balancing Act Africa, issue number 451 (23 April 2009): "The mobile market in Botswana has expanded, rising from zero in 1998 to 1.7 million subscribers as at the end of November 2008. A recently conducted market study into the Telecommunications and ICT Sector in Botswana has revealed that... the Botswana Internet market is still in its infancy, with low Internet penetration and extremely low broadband penetration due to high computer prices, high cost of services, low IT literacy, lack of local Internet content, power supply problems and perceived low quality service. The number of wireless broadband subscribers using ISPs operating on unlicensed spectrum bands, has also increased..."
  • Texts for the "Spectrum Licensing and Pricing" workshop, Botswana Telecommunications Authority, 9-10 October 2007:
    • "Consultation Document: A New Policy for Spectrum Licensing and Spectrum Pricing in Botswana," BTA, 40 pages in English. This consultation ended on 5 October 2007. "Recommendation 3: BTA should alter the existing balance among [the three basic spectrum management] models by expanding the use of both the exclusive use and commons models throughout the radio spectrum, and limiting the use of the command-and-control model to those instances where there are compelling public policy reasons."
    • "Consultation Document - Spectrum Allocation Strategy for other Radio Services" - the link on BTA's website is incorrect, so this document is not actually available.
    • "Draft Report on Spectrum Licensing and Pricing" by Teleplan and ICT Consultants (August 2007), 165 pages: "Recommendation 32: We recommend that mobile phones and low power devices (that meet BTA's type approval requirements) should be exempted from radio licensing requirements..."
  • Powerpoint presentations from the BTA's Spectrum Strategy Workshop, 28 February 2007, combined in one large zip archive. See especially: "Spectrum Allocation Strategy" by E. Fanebust; "Mobile Data Services and RLAN" by Tsietsi Motsoela (recommends that 5.8 GHz should be license exempt); "Rural Telecommunications Programme Nteletsa II - Frequency Spectrum Needs," by C. Masiga; and "Summary of Comments to the Presentations." That last presentation shows the workshop participants opposed to making the 5.8 GHz band "license exempt for everyone."
  • Prime Minister Nahas Angula said, "the government is making good progress towards promulgating the revised Telecommunications Bill in the new year. Consultations with all key stakeholders had progressed well, and the government is confident the Bill will return to parliament for promulgation in 2007..." ---"PM Praises MTC's 'Remarkable Strides'," by Mbatjiua Ngavirue, New Era, Windhoek, 15 December 2006 (via AllAfrica.com).
  • According to the "Licensing" page on the Botswana Telecommunications Authority website, "All radio transmitters have to be licensed whether operating or not." Botswana's frequency plan recognizes the ISM bands, but telecommunication applications are specifically excluded from the definition of "ISM."
  • But according to "Universal Access & Service for Botswana - Program for Internet & ICT," by Andrew Dymond & Sonja Oestmann (workshop presentation, 2 August 2006): "ISPs currently have only access to unlicensed ISM bands (2.4 and 5.& GHZ). BTA study underway to decide on frequency allocation..."
  • Similarly, in Final Report - Further liberalisation of Botswana's telecommunications industry by Robert Hall, David Lewin and Claire Milne, Ovum Limited, 23 March 2006 (108 pages, in English). In Section 10.3.4 ("Spectrum Management") the authors mention the "currently unlicensed spectrum in the 2.4 GHz band for WiFi..."
  • On the other hand, page 174 of Isabel Neto's Wireless Networks for the Developing World: The Regulation and Use of License-Exempt Radio Bands in Africa (2004), says WiFi is licensed in Botswana but the licenses are issued automatically. In "Other information (from survey, e-mails, or personal contacts), she passes on these comments, possibly from someone in Botswana's regulatory agency: "There is a strong possibility that some people are operating without the license. More especially that the ISM band is not licensed in other countries so people just operate assuming that is not licensed in Botswana also."
  • Yet according to a recent Consultation Document issued by the Botswana Telecommunications Authority, "ISPs currently have no licensed frequencies and are limited to the unlicensed ISM bands (2.4 and 5.7 GHz), which were described as congested, unreliable and experiencing considerable interference..." (Quoted from Section 4.2.5 ["Radio frequencies," page 19] in "Development of a Universal Access and Service Policy for the Communications Sector in Botswana" (16 July 2006) - drafted by Intelecon Research and Consultancy Ltd. and ICT Consultants (PTY) Ltd. for BTA
  • Putting together the above points, it may be that Neto and her colleagues confuse ISP licenses with WiFi licenses, while the British consultants confuse "unlicensed" with "class-licensed"....?
  • "Government of Botswana Publishes its timetable for further liberalisation of the telecommunications market," Botswana Telecommunications Authority. 20 June 2006 (no mention of WLANs).
  • Botswana National Frequency Plan, 2004 (160 pages in English, with footnotes): "The basis for the Botswana Radio Frequency Band Plan is Section 43 of the Telecommunications Act, 1996 [Law No. 15/1996]..."
  • BTA's Engineering Services department is responsible for frequency policy and management.

Africa - Regional Overview