Telkom accuses ICASA of assigning its spectrum to other networks

Telkom is engaging with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) over its recent allocation of spectrum as part of an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa.

This spectrum will be released for the duration of the national state of disaster with the aim of easing network congestion.

It should enable operators to maintain the quality of broadband services and lower the cost of access to consumers.

Five spectrum bands were made available for temporary assignment by ICASA: 700MHz, 800MHz, 2,300MHz, 2,600MHz, and 3,500MHz.

  • 700MHz and 800MHz – Telkom, MTN, and Vodacom get 40MHz each.
  • 2,300MHz – Telkom and Vodacom get 20MHz each.
  • 2,600MHz – Telkom gets 40MHz, Vodacom and MTN get 50MHz each, Rain gets 30MHz.
  • 3,500MHz – Telkom gets 12MHz, Vodacom and MTN get 50MHz each, Liquid Telecom gets 4MHz.

Telkom has taken issue with the assignment of the spectrum in the 2,300MHz band, however.

According to Telkom, the spectrum assigned in this band was already licensed exclusively to it and therefore was not eligible for assignment to other networks.

Engaging with ICASA

At the time ICASA’s Spectrum Usage Availability data for Q1 2019 was published, Telkom was assigned 60MHz TDD in the 2,300-2,400MHz band, as well as a 2x 80MHz duplex in the 2,300-2,500MHz band which overlapped with the 60MHz TDD spectrum.

This spectrum was assigned to Telkom for LTE and fixed-wireless access services.

“The spectrum has been allocated as an emergency response to COVID 19 for temporary relief in areas of network congestion,” Telkom said.

“Telkom is currently engaging with ICASA as ICASA has assigned spectrum already licensed to Telkom in the IMT2300 band.”

“We hope to be able to reach an amicable agreement with them on this soon.”

Telkom did not state how much of the 2,300MHz assigned to networks as part of the emergency spectrum allocation was licensed to it.

Telkom’s plan for emergency spectrum

As Telkom has been allocated emergency spectrum in four bands, it should be able to deploy this resource to improve its network performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telkom spokesperson Noma Faku previously told MyBroadband they have already identified areas with network congestion as part of their submission to ICASA.

“Telkom is currently working on the plan to deploy the allocated spectrum to these areas,” Faku said.

“Once the plan is completed, we will be in a better position to give an indication of when customers in those areas can expect improved network experience.”

Now read: Vodacom welcomes temporary spectrum assignment

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Telkom accuses ICASA of assigning its spectrum to other networks