ICASA Declares That It Will License 4G And 5G Spectrum Without ECA Amendment Bill

A spokesperson for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) recently announced to Mybroadband that the regulator “can and will proceed” to assign 4G and 5G spectrum in South Africa, even though the amendment bill to the Electronic Communication Act has been withdrawn.

He added that ICASA accepts the withdrawal of the bill and the commitment by the country's Minister of Telecommunications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, to consult on the matter further.
The spokesperson also shared that ICASA had raised concerns when the bill had initially been presented to Parliament. ICASA raised some concerns stating that the law would infringe on its powers with regards to the management and control of radio frequency spectrum.

Ndabeni-Abrahams retracted the bill on Tuesday during her session with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications.
She said that the reason for the withdrawal was that Parliament would not be finalising the bill before the national elections.
The Minister of Telecommunications said that a new and holistic, forward-looking approach would be better than making ad-hoc amendments to already existing legislation.

The withdrawal of the bill until after the elections in May 2019 raises concerns that there will again be delays in the deployment of high-demand spectrum to South Africa’s mobile network operators.

Siyabonga Cwele, the previous Minister of Telecommunications, declared in 2018 that the government would begin the process of assigning 4G spectrum by April 2019.
This followed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s order for Cwele to speed up his department’s process on the allocation of critical radio frequency spectrum.

However, ICASA has confirmed that it will go forward and license spectrum, despite the withdrawal of the bill. All it is waiting for now is a finalised policy direction from Ndabeni-Abrahams.

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