Instead of having a wholesale open-access network (Woan), SA should consider new spectrum-allocation models that require mobile operators to provide cheap or even free internet to the poor a fund manager says. In an effort to boost competition and drive down data prices, regulators have proposed the creation of a centralised network that would pool operators’ network infrastructure and spectrum assets, or radio waves. But some in the industry have argued that this would remove competitive advantages and disincentivise operators from investing in new cell towers or spectrum. This approach would hamper SA’s move towards capital-intensive 5G connectivity, they say.

Ashburton Investments fund manager Nick Crail said on Tuesday the money manager did not favour a Woan “because we don’t think it’s a sustainable business model”. This approach would probably result in SA having “sub-par” and irrelevant networks in 20 years, he said. Because of regulatory uncertainty, Ashburton, like ma...

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