Although relying on the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) process to license spectrum, iBurst said that it still plans to begin the roll-out of its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network by mid–2012.
Speaking at Telecoms World Africa 2012 held in Sandton, iBurst Group head of regulatory affairs, Joe Kgamedi, said that they do plan to enter into partnerships to share infrastructure.
“We recognise the regulations from ICASA on facilities sharing,” Kgamedi said. “We have our own sites, we will take advantage of those,” Kgamedi said, but added that for capacity they “obviously” have to look at infrastructure sharing.
Kgamedi said that while they do have spectrum that can be used for LTE, iBurst is “dependent on regulatory processes in 2.6GHz.”
ICASA has issued an invitation to apply (ITA) for scarce spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, but is waiting on a policy direction from the Minister of Communications before it can continue the process.
Asked what iBurst thinks of ICASA’s plan to make the high-demand spectrum needed for LTE deployments only available on a wholesale basis to established operators, Kgamedi said that they are open to any suggestion by ICASA.
He pointed out that ICASA’s current plan affords Wireless Business Solutions (WBS), iBurst’s holding company, its own spectrum in the 2.6GHz band.
WBS and Sentech had already been assigned spectrum in the band which presented a substantial hurdle to licensing the rest of the spectrum in the way recommended by the International Telecommunications Union.
Among other things, ICASA’s ITA aims to relocate the assignments of WBS and Sentech in the 2.6GHz band.
“If the outcome of the process grants us our own spectrum it would super for us,” Kgamedi said.