JOHANNESBURG – The telecommunications industry has welcomed a memorandum by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) on the licensing of the 4G and 5G spectrum.
Icasa on Friday published the Information Memorandum that sets out the five options for the licensing of additional spectrum and the conditions for the proposed assignment.
Icasa said the memo was the beginning of the process of licensing additional spectrum.
The memo invited interested parties to submit their views of the licensing for radio frequency in the ranges of 700MHz and 800MHz, 2.3GHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz by the end of January next year.
Keabetswe Modimoeng, the acting Icasa chairperson, said on Friday that the memo provided prospective applicants guidance on the licensing process.
“We invite all interested parties to take the opportunity and make submissions to this process. It is in the spirit of administrative justice and fairness that we consult stakeholders so that we can have their views on this imminent licensing process,” said Modimoeng.
Analysts have previously argued that the fact that no new spectrum had been allocated in South Africa in the last 14 years was the most significant obstacle to reducing input costs and, by extension, data prices.
Peter Takaendesa, a portfolio manager at Cape Town-based Mergence Investment Managers, said while the details contained within the memo were a positive move, of the five options provided for the division of the spectrum there was likely to be many opposing views from industry participants. “It is still not clear to us how the smaller operators will be accommodated, as they are unlikely to have the financial resources to compete in an auction process and pay lump sums on award.
“We hope that there will not be any major challenges to the process that may further delay the allocation of spectrum, as it is beneficial to both the industry and the consumer through the reduction in the cost of providing data, which will ultimately lead to lower data prices to the consumer,” he said.
MTN, Africa’s biggest telecoms company, on Friday said that it welcomed Icasa’s invitation to engage in the licensing process.
“MTN believes that the Information Memorandum will provide a framework or reasons document on Icasa’s approach to licensing of high demand spectrum.
"This will also provide transparency to the market before the publication of the Invitation to Apply and a greater understanding of the process and rationale applied in the licensing approach adopted by Icasa,” it said.
Icasa said on Friday that the move was to avail an additional spectrum to ensure nationwide broadband access.
It said it was a step towards reaching the country’s connectivity targets and promoting competition.
It was also aimed at promoting the empowerment of previously disadvantaged groups, particularly women, children, and people with disabilities, and promoting the interests of the consumers about the price.