South Africa: Vodacom And MTN Will Share The Much Anticipated 5G spectrum

The South African government has decided that when radio frequency spectrum earmarked for 5G networks becomes licensed in South Africa, the cellular network operators will have to share it.

Siyabonga Cwele, South Africa’s  Minister of Telecommunications, revealed this in a recent interview when answering questions from about how 5G spectrum would be licensed in the country.

The minister was asked whether a portion of the 5G spectrum would be given to the SA government’s proposed wholesale open access network (WOAN), as the Department of Telecommunications planned to do with 4G spectrum. To this question, he had no direct response but maintained that the spectrum would be shared and that just like with the policy on 4G spectrum, a network operator would be obligated to offer wholesale open access to its network in an instance where 5G spectrum is only assigned to one operator.

Cwele reassured the public that the government had no current intention of nationalising spectrum that was already assigned to network operators. He also confirmed that his department was currently preparing for the licensing of 5G spectrum as soon as the global regulatory environment for it had been agreed upon.

South Africa will start licensing radio frequency spectrum for 5G networks as soon as the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) wraps up next year in November.
The International Telecommunications Union will host the WRC-19 Egypt from the 28th October to 22nd November 2019.
Part of the agenda scheduled will be dedicated to discussing frequency bands to be used for 5G.

11 frequency bands ranging from 24.25GHz to 86GHz are currently being studied for compatibility with the existing radio communication services, and to see if these frequency bands can be used for 5G.

South Africa is expecting to be issued 5G spectrum licences during 2020, which means the country will be among the very first countries in the world to offer 5G services.

Vodacom and MTN, however, have stated that there is no need to wait to start the process because ICASA could very well begin by licensing radio frequencies in the underutilised 3.5GHz band, which is also compatible with 5G networks, just like Rain has done.

Cwele has promised to release and license outstanding 4G and digital dividend spectrum by March 2019. However, the Department of Telecommunications hopes to hold an auction for this high-demand spectrum in April 2019.

Credit: This article originated from

Share this post