Cell C has asked ICASA to take back the spectrum mobile operators aren’t using, or are using outside of the purposes it was assigned for.
Speaking at public hearings at ICASA’s offices, Cell C referred to the 2,100MHz band – where it believes there is a risk its competitors will “squat” on spectrum – and the 2,300MHz band.
Vodacom and MTN were assigned spectrum in 2,100MHz for fixed usage, and there is incentive for them to wait for those frequencies to be designated for mobile usage, said Cell C.
South Africa’s four major mobile operators have spectrum in the 2,100MHz band, assigned for mobile usage and deployed in a frequency-division duplex configuration.
However, Vodacom and MTN have additional assignments – which may be used in a configuration called time-division duplex (TDD).
In addition to addressing the spectrum “squatting”, Cell C wants ICASA to implement limits on what spectrum assigned for fixed usage may be used for.
It was implied this will affect the 2,100MHz and 2,300MHz bands, where Telkom was assigned a large chunk of bandwidth for fixed usage in the latter.
Telkom now uses this for its LTE and 4G network.
Cell C does not want Vodacom and MTN to “refarm” their fixed assignments in 2,100MHz for mobile usage. If they don’t want to use the spectrum for fixed links, it must be returned, said Cell C.
It also implied that Telkom should not have been allowed to roll out its LTE network using its 2,300MHz assignment.
Vodacom, in its presentation to ICASA, said it wants the designation of its TDD assignment in the 2,100MHz band amended.
The company said the regulations which recommend the application of the assignment for fixed usage should be scrapped.
Vodacom, however, said it does not oppose Cell C’s proposal.
“Vodacom believes that if a band has been designated for a specific purpose and it is not being used for that purpose, the spectrum should be returned,” it said.
Telkom said its licence does not preclude mobile usage, responding to Cell C’s proposal.
While it has a legacy point-to-multipoint network in the 2.3GHz and 2.4GHz bands, this is a separate spectrum licence from Telkom’s assignment that is being used for LTE and 4G services.