The national integrated ICT policy white paper, which is likely to set the cat among the pigeons over spectrum policy, will be discussed at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
The white paper may even be released later this week, depending on the outcome of the cabinet meeting, the sources said.
Siya Qoza, the spokesman for telecommunications & postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele, referred TechCentral to cabinet spokesman Donald Liphoko.
Liphoko declined to comment on the agenda for the cabinet meeting, but said if the policy white paper is discussed, more details will be revealed at the post-cabinet meeting media briefing on Thursday.
The developments come at the same time as Cwele faces off in court with Icasa over the communications regulator’s planned spectrum auction.
Cwele has taken umbrage with Icasa’s decision to issue an invitation to apply (ITA) to interested parties wanting to take part in an auction of so-called high-demand spectrum in early 2017.
Icasa published the ITA before government had finalised the white paper, which is expected to set out the state’s policy on how spectrum should be allocated.
The draft white paper is understood to propose a radical change in the way spectrum is assigned in South Africa.
Cwele is said to want a single national wholesale open-access network in which all of South Africa’s commercial operators and service providers will invest equity. The country’s two biggest mobile operators, MTN and Vodacom, are vehemently opposed to such a model, saying it is untested and could undermine investment in the sector.
The draft white paper has been stuck in “cabinet processes” for months.
The ANC, according to sources, is divided on the best approach to allocate spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 2,6GHz bands. The three bands are well suited for delivering next-generation 4G/LTE wireless broadband in both urban and rural areas. — © 2016 NewsCentral Media