These numbers show why Vodacom and MTN desperately need more spectrum

ICASA recently published its ICT COVID-19 National Disaster Regulations, which give guidelines on the temporary assignment of spectrum.

This spectrum will be released for the duration of the national state of disaster and is expected to ease network congestion in South Africa.

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

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

ICASA said it received 35 applications in response to its call for applications for the temporary assignment of spectrum.

The telecoms regulator is expected to announce its decisions on the assignment of spectrum this week.

How South Africa compares to other countries

After the temporary assignment of spectrum was announced, many people asked how South Africa stacks up against other countries in terms of spectrum allocation.

Do Vodacom and MTN really have less spectrum than their counterparts in other countries?

To answer this question, MyBroadband looked at how much spectrum operators in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other African countries have.

The comparison clearly showed that Vodacom and MTN do have less spectrum than their international counterparts.

What is striking is the shortage of 4G and 5G spectrum.

These bands make up a large chunk of spectrum of operators like T-Mobile, Verizon, and Vodafone.

In South Africa, Vodacom and MTN had to re-farm 2G and 3G spectrum to offer 4G and, to date, they have not been able to launch 5G due to a lack of spectrum.


Spectrum comparison in Africa

The charts below show how Vodacom and MTN’s spectrum allocation in South Africa compares with their operations in Africa.


South Africa vs US and UK

The charts below show how Vodacom and MTN’s spectrum in South Africa compares with prominent operators in the United States and the United Kingdom.


Now read: What you are not told about additional lockdown spectrum

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These numbers show why Vodacom and MTN desperately need more spectrum