Icasa to license ‘provisional’ spectrum ahead of auction

South Africa’s telecoms regulator, Icasa, mentioned on Wednesday it’s going to license provisional radio frequency spectrum to forestall any connectivity disruptions whereas it finalises a everlasting auction, which has been mired in courtroom battles.

The transfer comes because the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is withdrawing short-term spectrum assigned firstly of the Covid-19 outbreak final year to assist operators meet an enormous surge in knowledge demand. That spectrum have to be returned by operators by the top of this month.

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The withdrawal led to a public outcry by trade gamers, already going through a spectrum crunch, and induced cell operator Telkom – supported by MTN and Vodacom – to file courtroom papers in opposition to the withdrawal. Icasa had mentioned it could oppose it.

On Wednesday Icasa mentioned it believes that it’s in the perfect curiosity of the general public to have a provisional spectrum licensing association in place over the following seven months to allow all different licensing processes to conclude whereas mitigating any potential service disruptions.

“Icasa is not a spectrum-hoarding regulator,” its chairperson, Keabetswe Modimoeng, mentioned. He added that the provisional licensing association is an improved pro-competitive interim measure.

“This provisional arrangement is tailored to deal with any network issues which may affect the provision of services to consumers in the intervening period,” Modimoeng mentioned.

The bands accessible for licensing from December 1 to June 30, 2022, or three months after the termination of the National State of Disaster, are 700 megahertz (MHz), 800MHz, 2300MHz, 2600MHz and 3500MHz.

Icasa mentioned it’s going to make a remaining determination on the profitable candidates by no later than November 26. Interested operators will, amongst others, pay an application charge, an acquisition charge and the spectrum licence charge.

The everlasting licensing course of – of auctioning long-term spectrum – was delayed by authorized wrangling, after Telkom and broadcaster eMedia Holdings argued the auction course of was flawed and obtained a courtroom order to droop it.

With the authorized wrangling resolved, Icasa goals to restart the auction course of subsequent March.

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