Telecoms regulator ICASA recently published its ICT COVID-19 National Disaster Regulations, which give guidelines on the temporary assignment of spectrum.
This spectrum will be released for the duration of the national state of disaster and is expected to ease network congestion.
It should also enable operators to maintain the quality of broadband services and lower the cost of access to consumers.
Five spectrum bands will be made available for temporary assignment: 700MHz, 800MHz, 2,300MHz, 2,600MHz and 3,500MHz.
To get a slice of this spectrum, operators will have to provide a network performance report, show congested areas, and give network projections during the lockdown.
They also need to indicate the spectrum band they require access to and provide the benefits it will provide to consumers.
MyBroadband asked the mobile operators whether they plan to apply for the additional spectrum, and which bands they are interested in. Here is what they said.
Vodacom welcomed the initiative by Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and ICASA to allocate temporary spectrum to mobile network operators as a result of the national state of disaster.
Vodacom said it has seen an increase in traffic on its network in recent weeks as more people work from home and customers connect for longer due to the price cuts it announced on 1 April.
“Gaining access to temporary spectrum will help us cope with the increased volume of traffic which will ultimately ensure people working from home enjoy a seamless experience,” Vodacom said.
Vodacom is also significantly ramping up investment spending in the short term to help manage network congestion.
“We will submit our proposal to apply for temporary spectrum to ICASA in due course,” the company said.
MTN welcomed the decision by ICASA to temporarily release high-demand spectrum for the duration of the national state of disaster.
“We believe this move will assist greatly with easing network congestion and maintaining good quality of broadband services,” it said.
“We are currently studying the criteria and conditions stipulated by the authority and assessing our network requirements to ascertain our optimal spectrum requirements ahead of our submission to ICASA on 9 April 2020.”
Telkom said it is currently studying this issue and the company will be making their submission accordingly.
Cell C said it is looking at the potential of applying for additional spectrum as released by the ICASA COVID-19 Disaster Regulations.
“At this stage, we are still evaluating what would work best for the company’s requirements,” Cell C said.
Rain CEO Willem Roos told MyBroadband they will apply for additional spectrum to rapidly deploy additional capacity.
Roos said they cannot currently provide details on the spectrum bands which they will be applying for because it is confidential.