• Satellite Evolution Group

6GHz unlicensed access and Wi-Fi 6E to add billions to Indonesian and African economies, reveals DSA

The economies of Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa could benefit if they decide to enable unlicensed access to the 5925-7125MHz band, according to studies published by the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA) and the Telecom Advisory Services LLC (TAS). The four new studies were conducted by Dr Raul Katz and Fernando Callorda, leading scholars of economics and telecommunications policy. They show that over the next ten years, if regulations for licence-exempt access are adopted, billions of dollars could be added to the economies of each country.


The four new studies assessed the economic value of unlicensed use of the band in Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa by assessing the impact on service quality, coverage, affordability and the impact on different applications and use cases. The methodology relied upon in this study identified the different sources of economic value, estimated them independently and then aggregated within a single value. These findings revealed a significant early economic impact following the designation of 1,200MHz in the GHz band for unlicensed use for applications such as Wi-Fi 6E, the new generation of Wi-Fi that operates in the 6GHz band.


Some of the sources of value include enhanced broadband coverage and improved affordability, increased speed by reducing Wi-Fi congestion, enhanced deployment of municipal Wi-Fi and deployment of Free Wi-Fi Hotspots, which provide for Internet access for households that cannot purchase a broadband plan. All this while ensuring that existing incumbent services, such as satellites and fixed links can continue to thrive in the band.


In the case of Indonesia, the cumulative economic value between 2022 and 2031 associated with enabling license-exempt access to the 1200MHz in the 6GHz band amounts to US$126.44 billion in GDP contribution, US$37.73 billion in producer surplus to Indonesian enterprises, and US$23.47 billion in consumer surplus to the Indonesian population. The total contribution amounts to US$187.63 billion to the Indonesian economy over the next ten years.


In the case of Kenya, the cumulative economic value between 2021 and 2030 associated with enabling license-exempt access to the 1200MHz in the 6GHz band amounts up to US$14.28 billion in GDP contribution, US$1.12 billion in producer surplus to Kenyan enterprises, and US$4.89 billion in consumer surplus to the Kenyan population. The total contribution amounts up to US$20.29 billion to the Kenyan economy over the next ten years.


For Nigeria, the cumulative economic value between 2021 and 2030 associated with enabling license-exempt access to the 1200MHz in the 6GHz band amounts up to US$49.89 billion in GDP contribution, US$10.51 billion in producer surplus to Nigerian enterprises, and US$11.74 billion in consumer surplus to the Nigerian population. The total contribution amounts up to US$72.14 billion to the Nigerian economy over the next ten years.


For South Africa, the cumulative economic value between 2021 and 2030 associated with enabling license-exempt access to the 1200MHz in the 6GHz band amounts up to US$34.81 billion in GDP contribution, US$13.32 billion in producer surplus to South African enterprises, and US$9.63 billion in consumer surplus to the South African population. The total contribution amounts up to US$57.76 billion to the South African economy over the next ten years.


“License-exempt use of the entire 6GHz band for Wi-Fi will be critical to address current pressing bandwidth demands for end users, new applications and industries,” said Martha Suarez, President of the DSA. “It will also play a crucial role in bridging the digital divide in these countries, enabling improved access to remote education, work and commerce. Wi-Fi needs greater spectrum access in the 6GHz band to effectively support the modern digital ecosystem.”


The DSA encourages the Indonesian, Kenyan, Nigerian and South African spectrum authorities to consider the impact of this economic benefit by allowing unlicensed operations in the 6GHz frequency band, making a more efficient use of the spectrum compared to the current use, protecting incumbents and increasing broadband connectivity in these four countries.


These studies were carried out in collaboration with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s Digital Access Program (DAP).