The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services has released its statement on the priorities of its 2018/19 Budget Vote.
The department covered multiple topics in the document, including the rollout of broadband services and spectrum allocation to mobile operators.
It stated that it is prioritising the “operationalisation of the National Rapid Deployment Coordinating Centre” in the current financial year, which will comprise representatives from all spheres of government and industry.
“Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are leading in facilitating this developmental approach to broadband deployment. Gauteng will launch its pilot with Emfuleni Local Municipality,’ said the department.
The centre will:
- Establish a common automated wayleave application system.
- Create a geographic mapping information database of all fibre and other electronic communication network facility deployments.
“In short, it will assist network providers to reduce costs and time for deploying their telecommunication infrastructure,” it said.
“We hope the savings the operators make on their infrastructure rollout expenditure will be transfered to consumers.”
Following continued calls for the release of radio frequency spectrum to mobile operators, the department said it is still looking at the allocation of the resource.
“Last year we consulted widely on the implementation of the ICT White Paper and found a consensus on a way forward in relation to the scarce high-demand spectrum,” said the department.
This included the development of a national wholesale open access network (WOAN), which local mobile operators pledged to buy capacity on if their current spectrum licences were not revoked.
The operators also pledged to buy additional capacity if spectrum left over after the establishment of the WOAN could be licensed to them.
The CSIR was then commissioned to conduct a study into the spectrum the WOAN will require, which it has now concluded.
“The outcome of the study is in the Cabinet process for consideration and approval, and will be published after the conclusion of the Cabinet process,” said the department.
The budget statement also contained plans for making South Africa ready for the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and what the country needs to improve in the digital and broadband sectors.
This included a plan for the department to embark on an extensive skills development programme.
It said it will train one million young people by 2030 in the following data science skills:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Cloud computing