ICASA has published its Final Radio Frequency Spectrum Assignment Plan (RSFAP), which covers the frequency band spanning 470MHz to 694MHz.
ICASA acting chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng said this will enable the immediate availability of the 470MHz to 694MHz band for Digital Terrestrial Television (DDT) when analogue TV is switched off.
“This is one of the most critical processes on our radar that enables broadcasting service licensees and their signal distribution partners to initiate and include in their business plans, the reconfiguration of the broadcasting network, specifically the DTT Multiplex 1 and 2 systematically, thus, in time for the announcement of the analogue switch off,” said Modimoeng.
Good news for mobile spectrum
ICASA said this process will also assist in the clearing of the IMT700 and IMT800 high-demand spectrum bands – bands that will be allocated for mobile broadband – sooner than had been anticipated.
This is because the restacking process of DTT services which are currently operating in the frequency bands spanning 694MHz to 862MHz will allow these DTT services to operate in the 470MHz to 694MHz range instead.
“This process will enable the permanent release and awarding of the IMT radio frequency spectrum – the process that ICASA is currently undertaking for the licensing of high demand spectrum through an auction,” said ICASA.
Temporary mobile spectrum
ICASA released emergency spectrum to various mobile networks in April to ensure that they could meet the spike in broadband demand because of the coronavirus lockdown.
It has since confirmed that temporary access to the free spectrum will conclude at the end of November 2020.
This is because ICASA plans to place this spectrum on auction in December.
Modimoeng said ICASA believes it will receive ‘attractive offers’ from bidding companies because they will have experienced having this open spectrum and will want to regain access to it.
Modimoeng added that ICASA expects to complete the distribution of spectrum to the WOAN in 2021.