Communications regulator Icasa said on Thursday that it plans to issue an “information memorandum” before the end of the year on the licensing process for so-called high-demand spectrum, finally kicking a process into gear that should have been concluded years ago.
The spectrum in question can be used by operators to expand their 4G/LTE mobile broadband networks to provide better indoor coverage in urban areas and provide wider coverage in rural areas at lower cost.
The information memorandum will outline Icasa’s approach on the licensing of the spectrum following government’s publication of a policy on the allocation of high-demand spectrum and the creation of a private sector-led wholesale open-access network (Woan), which is meant to dilute the dominance of the sector’s biggest operators, Vodacom and MTN, and facilitate greater competition in the sector.
The policy direction will inform Icasa’s position to be outlined in the information memorandum, the regulator said in a statement.
“The information memorandum is also intended to provide guidance to stakeholders and prospective applicants on the process and criteria to be applied by the authority in the licensing of the spectrum,” it said.
Through its publication, Icasa will “provide an opportunity to stakeholders and prospective applicants alike to make inputs and representations on the proposed licensing process, associated criteria and timelines,” said acting chair Keabetswe Modimoeng.
“The publication of the information memorandum is an important step in the licensing process for the ultimate release of the high-demand spectrum in order to give effect to government’s policy objectives of ensuring broadband access for all, transformation of the ICT sector, lower data costs, promote competition and ensure inclusive economic growth,” Modimoeng said.
Icasa had wanted to move ahead with licensing the spectrum years ago, but its plans were derailed when former communications minister Siyabonga Cwele took it to court. — © 2019 NewsCentral Media