LTE spectrum assignment imminent

The Department of Communications is “almost at the point where we will be able to allocate” the precious spectrum network operators are after to roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in South Africa, said Minister of Communications Dina Pule.

Addressing a group of industry players attending a South African Communications Forum breakfast event in Sandton on Monday (15 October 2012), Pule said that stakeholders must be patient for just awhile longer.

“There were a number of things overtaking us and issues that had to be addressed at ICASA level,” Pule explained.

She added that “probably by next month [November 2012]” they would be able to tell the industry what would be happening.

Pule emphasised that the digital dividend band in 800MHz, which is set to be part of the assignment process, was only going to be available in 2015.

This is because analogue TV broadcasts in the band must be switched off before it can be used. For that to happen, South Africa must complete its migration to digital broadcasting.

Other spectrum assigned to operators, such as the frequencies in the sought-after 2.6GHz band, is expected to be available for use immediately.

High-demand frequency bands in South Africa have a history of stop-start processes going as far back as 2006.

Many network operators have cited lack of spectrum as the biggest obstacle to the roll-out of high speed wireless broadband technologies such as LTE.

Dina Pule SACF leadership breakfast 2012
Dina Pule

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LTE spectrum assignment imminent