When Vodacom and MTN can expect the spectrum they’ve been begging for

The Minister of Telecommunications will soon publish a draft Policy Direction for the assignment of high-demand spectrum, the ministry told MyBroadband.

This draft Policy Direction is scheduled to be gazetted next week and will be open for comments. [Update: It has been gazetted.]

After considering public comments, the minister will issue a final Policy Direction to ICASA which will enable them to start their processes for licensing.

A spokesperson estimated that the legislative requirements will be met sometime in November, after which the spectrum licensing process may begin.

The minister also aims to license outstanding 4G and digital dividend spectrum by March 2019.

Director-general of the Department of Telecommunications Robert Nkuna said that when the assignment process kicks off, they plan to allocate spectrum in the 2.6GHz, 700MHz, and 800MHz frequency bands.

It is worth noting that the 700MHz and 800MHz bands will only be available when South Africa completes its migration from analogue to digital TV broadcasting.

The deadline for the migration is June 2019.

Burying the hatchet

ICASA and the ministry also recently announced that they settled a spectrum licensing matter which was before the court.

The regulator issued an invitation to apply for certain frequency bands in 2016, ahead of the ministry’s publication of its National ICT Policy White Paper – and without waiting for a directive from Minister Siyabonga Cwele.

Cwele took ICASA to court, and obtained an interdict preventing the regulator from licensing the spectrum until the case was resolved. The matter has now been withdrawn.

Now read: Date set for ICASA-Cell C court case about out-of-bundle billing

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When Vodacom and MTN can expect the spectrum they’ve been begging for