Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) councillor Marcia Socikwa said that the mobile operators have sufficient spectrum, and that they need to optimise the network and improve quality of service. World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck called this argument absurd.
Speaking on an SAFM interview, Socikwa said that “this is the way it really is. The cry for additional spectrum by the mobile operators surprises me, because they have sufficient spectrum from where we are sitting”.
“All they need to do is invest in optimising the network and improve quality of service. Then we will have a further conversation about whether they need more spectrum,” said Socikwa.
“For now, we don’t think they do until they can improve on these two parameters.”
Former communications Director General Lyndall Shope-Mafole weighed in on the debate, arguing that spectrum is a very political issue – similar to land.
Valuable spectrum wasted: Vodacom
“We have been talking about digital dividend spectrum for years now, and still it has not happened,” said Boorman.
“There is some very attractive spectrum which can be put to good use for the people of South Africa, and [we] just need the regulations to go through and free up the spectrum,” said Boorman.
“We have a natural resource that we are not using at the moment,” said Boorman.
ICASA’s argument absurd: Arthur Goldstuck
Arthur Goldstuck called Socikwa’s argument absurd. “I would love to hear the basis of suggesting that the networks have enough spectrum when we have seen how they had to jump through hoops to start rolling out LTE.”
“They had to re-farm spectrum designed for 3G to roll out LTE, and ICASA’s argument holds no water whatsoever,” said Goldstuck.
“There is a desperate need for spectrum, and if you want to see where spectrum is not used effectively all you have to do is look at Telkom. They have huge allocations of spectrum which is not being used.”
We can not continue to hand out spectrum: ICASA
Socikwa retorted, saying that the only reason why the mobile operators are re-farming spectrum for LTE is because they are not getting extra spectrum.
“If we keep dishing out spectrum to the major operators, it means that we cannot allow new entrants into the market,” said Socikwa.
Socikwa said that they want to see the efficiency measures from the mobile operators before they hand out new spectrum.
“They are not giving us any sense of the value that we are getting from the spectrum which they already have,” said Socikwa.