MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa has a plea for Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele – Please release the spectrum.
Motsa said every time he sees the minister, he shows him a graph which illustrates how bandwidth-starved South Africa’s mobile operators are compared to those in other countries.
“We all know that the 2,600MHz spectrum has been lying dormant,” said Motsa, referring to capacity in the wireless frequency spectrum suitable for 4G and LTE services.
Only Rain currently has frequencies in the 2,600MHz band, and the process to assign further capacity in South Africa has been met with constant delays.
The spectrum is being held back until South Africa completes its migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television, a process which has been dragging on for several years.
Cwele’s ministry has also indicated in new draft legislation that it plans to give all available spectrum to a national wireless “open access network”, despite negotiations with industry indicating the contrary.
This is a huge point of concern for MTN, said Motsa.
“We’ve written to the minister to ask for an extension [on the 30-day deadline for submission of feedback on the Amendment Bill],” said Motsa.
He said they are not asking for the spectrum to just be handed to operators, and due process must be followed.
“We do not want spectrum without obligations, without conditions. In the past, spectrum was issued with certain rural coverage obligations and we expect any new spectrum to be the same.”
Spectrum assignment by country
The graph below details Motsa’s statement on spectrum allocation in South Africa.