Treasury sets new spectrum deadline for South Africa

Treasury has detailed its “inclusive growth action plan” for the government, based on discussions between finance minister Malusi Gigaba and stakeholders.

The plan follows Q1 2017 GDP data which showed South Africa is in a technical recession.

Among the interventions are deadlines for the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services to ensure that new radio frequency spectrum is assigned to wireless network operators.

The deadlines are:

  • Direct Competition Commission to investigate the data prices – July 2017
  • Commence roll-out of phase 1 of SA Connect Broadband programme – August 2017
  • Conduct high level study on WOAN spectrum needs with a view to licence the remainder to the industry – August 2017
  • Issue policy directive mandating ICASA to commence the licensing process – December 2017
  • Complete the spectrum licensing process – December 2018

Radio frequency licensing

The December 2018 deadline to complete the spectrum licensing process coincides with the latest deadline the Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, set to complete South Africa’s migration to digital TV broadcasting.

Only once the migration is complete will sought-after spectrum known as the “digital dividend” be available.

This spectrum will be useful for rolling out coverage over large areas that offers good indoor penetration.

If the digital migration is not completed, the spectrum licensed may not be available to use – and the government and ICASA will have to account for this possibility.

Now read: How the ANC government has held back faster, cheaper 4G in South Africa

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Treasury sets new spectrum deadline for South Africa