Spectrum Management

Spectrum: South African Regulator Extends Period For "Temporary Allocation"

Following recent uncertainties regarding the extension of temporary radio frequency spectrum assignments, South Africa (ICASA) has decided to extend its temporary spectrum allocation for three months.

Last month, the regulator had announced that it would not be extending the allocation beyond 31 May 2021 due to the ongoing litigation relating to the spectrum auction. The Authority then invited the public to comment on its review of the National Disaster Regulations. After reviewing the responses, ICASA then changed its stance on the issue and decided to extend the temporary spectrum allocation.

South African mobile subscribers and mobile network operators have duly welcomed the extension from 1 June 2021 to 31 August 2021. With the extension, it means that operators can continue providing data at reduced prices. With the confirmation of the extension, ICASA said that it hoped that South African mobile operators would utilise the three months to find a resolution to the spectrum litigation impasse initiated by Telkom and MTN against the auction process.

ICASA's Chairperson, Keabetswe Modimoeng, warned that the Authority would not extend the temporary spectrum any further when there is a permanent solution for the spectrum licencing issue stuck in litigation. Modimoeng warned the industry not to abuse a temporary pandemic-specific arrangement and completely ignore the permanent solution that the Authority put into play.

The high-demand spectrum needs to be licenced transparently and competitively, said Modimoeng. Any other form of licencing will be unjustifiable in the long run, he added.

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