South Africa: Stakeholders Eagerly Await ICASA's Spectrum Auction, Anytime Now
In South Africa, telecommunications and media stakeholders are eagerly awaiting the new high demand spectrum auction led by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) which should happen in less than three months.
ICASA's chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng says that the authority is still committed to seeing this process to the end, ensuring improved quality of service and experience, and the related reduced data and voice costs.
"We have adequately consulted relevant stakeholders and the public throughout this process and cannot do so to the point of regulatory paralysis," Modimoeng said.
According to a policy discussion document released in 2019, the National Treasury described the delay in the additional spectrum allocation as the single biggest constraint on the telecommunications sector's growth and a bottleneck for broader economic growth.
ICASA did however temporarily release spectrum during lockdown last year which helped Vodacom and MTN launch their 5G networks. The act helped operators increase their network capacity, but it also improved their average network performance.
According to Bussiness Report, the Mergence Investment Managers' head of equity Peter Takaendesa said that the telecoms sector was one of the few net winners of the Covid-19 pandemic related shift in human behaviour as more people worked from home.
Takaendesa said revenue continued to grow in 2020, despite an economy in deep recession and data price cuts of up to 40 per cent on some packages following the Competition Commission's agreements with the leading mobile operators.
"We expect industry growth to slow in 2021, due to the higher base set by Covid, but to remain relatively resilient as new spectrum allocations will provide capacity for further data revenue growth. Suppose there is no major impact from new waves of Covid and vaccine rollouts continue as expected. In that case, we expect the more cyclical telcos to perform better as they recover from significant de-ratings 2020," said Takaendesa.