ICASA has published its second Draft Radio Frequency Spectrum Assignment Plan to make critical wireless network capacity available to South African operators.
ICASA’s plan covers the frequency bands 825-830MHz and 870-875 MHz, and restricts the use of the frequencies to cellular technologies – specifically International Mobile Telecommunications standards.
While it is not a lot of spectrum, mobile networks in South Africa have long said that lower-frequency spectrum – such as that in the 800MHz band – would be ideal for improving coverage in rural South Africa.
The spectrum in these bands is suitable for LTE and LTE-A.
As part of the plan, ICASA has proposed that spectrum assigned to Neotel be shifted immediately by 2MHz to fall within the 825-830MHz and 870-875MHz ranges.
Neotel currently uses this spectrum for its CDMA850 network, and ICASA said that in the long run it must stop using its assignment in this band for CDMA.
ICASA has outlined a migration plan where, initially, two 3MHz bands will be freed up to ensure dual illumination with existing services.
The final 2MHz bands will be freed up at a later stage, for a total of 2×5MHz LTE spectrum – which will be available by the end of the process.
The draft plan is open to public consultation until 20 October. ICASA has invited interested parties to submit written representations on the plan.
It will then develop an invitation to apply for the spectrum in line with regulations.