Communications regulator Icasa said on Friday that it will soon publish a request for proposals to appoint a consultant to assist with its next broadband spectrum auction.
Icasa, which expects to conclude the auction next year, plans to license large swathes of additional spectrum that can be used by telecommunications operators to provide broadband communications to South African consumers. Its move comes after last year’s spectrum auction, which saw frequency bands assigned to Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Rain and Cell C.
The regulator said in its statement that it will again use an auction mechanism to license access to additional spectrum in the 750MHz, 800MHz, 1.5GHz, 2.3GHz, 3.3GHz and 3.5GHz bands. All these bands have been earmarked for mobile telecoms use. The consultant appointed by Icasa will also be expected to run the auction.
“This important process seeks to ensure universal availability of broadband services, a robust and competitive telecoms industry, and promote investment in the country. As a result, it is vital to ensure a fair auction process by appointing a suitable consultant to assist with the licensing process”, said Icasa councillor Peter Zimri.
In last March’s spectrum auction, Icasa raised R14.4-billion in proceeds — significantly higher than the R8-billion expected — for the national fiscus. Vodacom and MTN emerged as the big winners in that auction.
MTN and Vodacom spent R5.2-billion and R5.4-billion respectively securing access to the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands. These bands are crucial for rolling out better coverage based on 4G/LTE and for deploying next-generation 5G networks.
MTN spent R5.2-billion securing:
- 20MHz in the 800MHz band
- 40MHz in the 2.6GHz band
- 40MHz in the 3.5GHz band
Vodacom spent R5.4-billion buying:
- 20MHz at 700MHz
- 80MHz at 2.6GHz
- 10MHz at 3.5GHz
Other companies to secure spectrum were:
- Telkom: 20MHz at 800MHz and 22MHz at 3.5GHz for a total of R2.2-billion
- Rain: 20MHz at 700MHz and 20MHz at 2.6GHz for a total of R1.4-billion
- Cell C: 10MHz at 3.5GHz for R288.2-million
- Liquid Intelligent Technologies: 4MHz at 3.5GHz for R111-million
The main auction stage comprised 58 rounds of bidding between the six bidders. There was one unsold spectrum lot of 2x10MHz in the 800MHz band, which would be sold later, Icasa said at the time.
The operators that secured access to the 700MHz and 800MHz bands are, however, still waiting for the long-overdue switch-off of analogue broadcasting in South Africa before they can take full advantage of those bands. – © 2023 NewsCentral Media