US-based Trilogy International, the parent of Haitian GSM mobile network operator Comcel (Voila) has asked telecoms regulator Conatel to make unused frequencies in the 850MHz band available to help the relief efforts in the wake of the devastating earthquake on 12 January, Trilogy’s chief technology officer Stewart Sherriff told BNamericas. Voila currently holds 17.5MHz in the 850MHz band and is asking for a temporary allocation of an additional 7.7MHz to help raise network capacity to cope with a surge in traffic. Sherriff said that in some areas the company has to support 5,000 aid workers that are using not only voice but data, and the network is not designed to support that level of traffic. ‘We’ve got some cells that require 50 radios on them, and the spectrum we’ve allocated to us under the licence is insufficient to cater for those extraordinary needs,’ he explained. The executive also said that as Voila lost a number of cell sites in densely populated areas of Port au Prince, the network is being redesigned for temporary restoration of those services. ‘It will take years to rebuild Port au Prince and a critical element in the building process will be the ability to communicate, and wireless is the only reliable communications service that Haiti has now,’ Sheriff stated.
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