ICASA has published a statement outlining why it has temporarily released spectrum in the same 2,360-2,400MHz frequency band of the fixed-services portion that is licensed to Telkom.
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.
However, ICASA disagreed with Telkom’s argument.
“The Authority is of the view that the argument raised is premature and misdirected in the context of the temporary assignment of spectrum for purposes of the COVID-19 Regulations,” said ICASA.
It said that in terms of Regulation 6(2) of the COVID-19 Regulations, ICASA is allowed to temporarily assign radio frequency spectrum during a national disaster period.
“Furthermore, in assigning the temporary radio frequency spectrum for the national disaster period, the Authority may deviate from the Radio Frequency Assignment Plans (RFSAPs),” it added.
It said the temporary assignments which have been made in the IMT2300 band were done within this context.
Mobile and fixed services
“The Authority would like to put it on record that the 40 MHz spectrum from 2,360 -2,400 MHz is available to be licensed to mobile services,” ICASA added.
It said that, in terms of the IMT2300 RFSAP, these mobile services will co-exist with fixed services.
Additionally, ICASA said the temporary assignment of this spectrum has been granted on the basis that these temporary mobile services providers will coordinate with fixed services where possible.
“It is important to note that ICASA is the custodian of spectrum resources (including the licensing thereof) on behalf of the people of South Africa,” added ICASA acting chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng.
“It therefore follows that in instances of dispute, ICASA’s position must be premised on consistent and fair application of the law and regulations.”
“We do not agree with Telkom’s view as regards the inherent conditions of their existing 2.3GHz band spectrum assignment. This calls for a cordial engagement, without spurious allegations of ‘expropriation’ as seen in the media,” Modimoeng said.