The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has received six applications in response to the Invitation to Apply (ITA) for the IMT spectrum issued on 2 October 2020.
In terms of the ITA, ICASA has made available the IMT spectrum bands in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2,600MHz, and 3,500MHz bands for assignment to qualifying applicants.
Submissions were received from all of South Africa’s major telecommunications players:
- Cell C
- Rain Networks
- Liquid Telecoms
ICASA intends to conduct an auction for the licensing of high demand spectrum by no later than 31 March 2021.
It added that it will keep the public and stakeholders updated with regards to the developments on this process.
ICASA chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng expressed his gratitude to all the applicants who took time to respond to the ITA.
“The ICASA council is indeed grateful to all applicants who responded to this call for the licensing of high demand spectrum,” said Modimoeng.
“We are ready and committed to ensure we take the necessary care and that the release of the spectrum is procedurally fair and non-discriminatory.”
Telkom has recently launched a legal challenge against ICASA’s plans to auction radio frequency spectrum that is to be used for 4G and 5G networks in South Africa.
Telkom said it has tried to engage with ICASA regarding the spectrum auction on several occasions, but the regulator rebuffed them.
It warned that if the spectrum licensing process were to continue as is, ICASA would mess up the industry for 20 years.
Telkom said there are “a number of grounds of review”, which include:
The “digital dividend” bands of spectrum in the 700MHz and 800MHz categories are not currently commercially viable.
ICASA has not taken into account the lack of competition in South Africa’s cellular market.
The regulator said that it will oppose Telkom’s court application against ICASA’s forthcoming radio frequency spectrum auction.
“This court application does not stop us from proceeding with the receipt of applications in this regard,” ICASA said.