Communications minister Roy Padayachie will issue a policy directive to telecommunications regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), to conduct a review of the so-called “digital dividend” spectrum that will be freed up when SA completes its migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television.
Spectrum around the 800MHz band will be freed up when broadcasters move to digital technology in December 2013.
“The digital dividend will result in the licensing of further communications services, such as mobile TV, high-definition TV, public emergency services and additional standard-definition TV,” the minister says.
Telecoms operators are keen to get their hands on the spectrum to build broadband networks based on a next-generation technology called long-term evolution. The 800MHz band is well suited to building broadband networks in rural areas.
“In terms of the radio frequency spectrum licensing, the new radio frequency policy trajectory will consider allocating parts of the high-demand frequency spectrum towards accelerating development of rural connectivity,” Padayachie says. “We will also ensure our licensing framework balances the needs of the big and smaller entities.”
He says his department will work with Icasa to conduct a radio frequency spectrum audit to “ensure effective utilisation of scarce resources, covering all bands contained in the national frequency plans”.
“Licensed entities unable to account for their use of the allocated radio frequency spectrum may forfeit their rights in terms of the law,” Padayachie says. “We are prepared to amend the law to ensure efficient utilisation of the radio frequency spectrum.” — Staff reporter, TechCentral