South Africa: "Keep Covid-19 Emergency Spectrum Till Next Year" - ICASA Tells Operators
South Africa's broadcast and telecoms regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has agreed that telecoms operators in the country are not obliged to return the temporary 4G and 5G emergency pandemic-related spectrum allocated to them until March of 2021.
This announcement was part of the statement from ICASA's chairman Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng when he was providing details on the country's spectrum auctioning programme.
It will be recalled that in April 2020, ICASA released the emergency spectrum for five different bands - including the 5G "golden band" of 3.5GHz - to be used as a buffer, helping mobile operators meet projected to surge in demand during the pandemic. These were scheduled to be returned by 30th November 2020, but now, ICASA says they can keep it for another four months.
The extension is delightful news to the operators in South Africa, who are not entirely keen on giving back the emergency spectrum. According to reports, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN SA's CEO, Mr Godfrey Motsa, said "there is no business case for giving back the emergency spectrum" more so as some the sites where it has deployed 5G have already been using the emergency spectrum.