Telecommunications & postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele must immediately release the full report of the CSIR into the spectrum requirements of the planned wholesale open-access network (Woan).
That’s the view of Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn, who said Cwele must release the CSIR report — which he commissioned — before a planned new process to release spectrum to operators is started.
Shinn said on Thursday that she has filed a request to the telecoms department under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to have the CSIR report released.
Cwele commissioned the CSIR to produce the report to show how much spectrum should be reserved by the Woan. The rest, Cwele has said previously, would be allocated to commercial operators such as Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom.
Shinn said despite Wednesday’s news that Cwele had withdrawn his lawsuit preventing Icasa from going ahead with an invitation to apply to operators to bid for new spectrum — ending the stand-off between the parties — “there needs to be more clarity on some key issues before the champagne corks can pop”.
“Critical to any decision on the licensing of spectrum is what the CSIR determined the spectrum needs are, for the yet-to-be-formed Woan…
“There is no indication yet of who the stakeholders in the Woan might be and, should such a consortium be established, it is likely to be about 10 years before it can become operational. Until then, a sizeable portion of high-demand spectrum, critically needed for mobile-data starved South Africans, would lie idle,” she said.
Shinn said Thursday’s developments could have happened in early 2017 when the mobile operators offered a compromise offer on the conditions applicable to the auction of spectrum that would enable them to work alongside the proposed Woan.
“Minister Cwele did not engage with the mobile operators on their suggestions and wasted 18 months before he was finally pressured to change his mind, prompting the deal announced yesterday,” she said.
“It is common cause that national treasury and President Cyril Ramaphosa were in favour of a spectrum auction that could, depending on the spectrum made available for auction, raise between R25-billion and R40-billion for the fiscus.” — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media