Icasa issues temporary spectrum licences to six companies

26 November 2021 - 17:33 By THABISO MOCHIKO
Communications and digital technologies minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the ministry continues to engage with mobile operators and other relevant parties to find an amicable solution to auctioning spectrum licensing. Stock photo.
Communications and digital technologies minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the ministry continues to engage with mobile operators and other relevant parties to find an amicable solution to auctioning spectrum licensing. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/TOMASZ WYSZOLMIRSKI

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has awarded temporary spectrum licences to six companies to continue delivering faster connectivity to customers.

Spectrum is a radio frequency used for the rollout and access to superfast internet. The temporary licences are valid for seven months or three months after the termination of the national state of disaster — whichever comes first. 

There has been unprecedented demand for internet access as people have had to work from home and learn online.

According to Vodacom, it is estimated that 10-million South Africans have benefited from the service that operators have been able to provide as a result of the first temporary spectrum allocation, which was done in April last year at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. This initial allocation expires at the end of November, hence the new temporary process was initiated.

Icasa chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng said the provisional assignments were needed as a step towards urgently finalising the permanent high-demand spectrum licensing process.

Icasa  plans to make the permanent allocation of spectrum by March next year. 

“This provisional spectrum assignment remains an interim measure, intended to improve communication services for consumers in the intervening period, with the goal being to permanently license the spectrum through an auction commencing in March 2022. This provisional licensing phase attempts temporarily to address competition concerns and levy appropriate fees but a more all-inclusive regime will be yielded through a competitive bidding approach,” said Modimoeng.

The temporary spectrum licensees — Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Cell C, Rain and Liquid Intelligence Technologies — will be required to pay a spectrum acquisition fee as well as a spectrum usage fee in addition to the up-front application fee. Icasa says it will raise R200m for the national fiscus through this process.

Business Times


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