Use digital dividend spectrum for broadband: report

The Department of Communications (DoC) has published its “Second Digital Dividend Final Report and Implementation Plan” by Deloitte, which recommends that network operators should get access to 800MHz spectrum band as soon as it becomes available.

The DoC commissioned the Deloitte study on the use of the 2nd Digital Dividend – the spectrum in the 700 MHz Band that will become available for alternative uses – following the analogue-to-digital television switch-over.

The purpose of the study was to determine the optimum use of the 2nd Digital Dividend by estimating the social and economic benefits of using this radio spectrum either for mobile broadband or broadcasting services taking into consideration future spectrum requirements.

The report focuses on both mobile and broadcasting requirements, as well as assessing the pros and cons of allocating the Digital Dividend to either broadcasting or mobile service.

The methodology deployed for this study consisted of primary and secondary research, including consultation with key public sector and private sector broadcasting and telecommunication parties in South Africa.

“The Department continues to consult with all the stakeholders to ensure that allocation of radio frequency spectrum is done in a fair and transparent manner for all to benefit,” the DoC said in a press statement.

Recommendations

The report stated that, despite the licensed broadcasters indicating a keenness to retain the 700 MHz spectrum for provision of broadcasting services, the merit of doing this is difficult to justify.

“700MHz Digital Dividend can and should be released for services other than terrestrial broadcasting services,” it said.

“More specifically, this spectrum can be allocated for IMT services as envisaged within the confines of ITU Resolution 232 (WRC-12) and applied towards the implementation of wireless broadband services.”

The report made the following recommendations:

  • VHF band III and UHF band IV be reserved for broadcasters;
  • High bandwidth television services viz., Ultra HD and 3D TV be allocated to satellite DTH should a need arise in the short to medium term;
  • Icasa to consider allocating a full MUX to each of the broadcasters in the medium to long term with stringent conditions for broadcasters to fulfill as part of the motivation requirements, requesting broadcasters to demonstrate on-going financial viability and agreeing to cede unused spectrum to Icasa;
  • Icasa to manage the aggregated MUX capacity on an on-going basis, taking into account active and inactive use of allocated spectrum across the country;
  • 700MHz be allocated to IMT with the creation of a contiguous band within the 800MHz First Digital Dividend; and
  • MNOs and NOs be licenced to access the 800MHz as soon as this becomes available.

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Use digital dividend spectrum for broadband: report