According to TechCentral, telecoms regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has indicated that it needs to spend ZAR12 million (USD1.78 million) on software before it can press ahead with its long-delayed auction for licences in 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz spectrum bandwidths; the spectrum is suitable for fourth generation services, including Long Term Evolution (LTE). ICASA councillor William Stucke commented: ‘In order to do this properly we need the spectrum software’. ICASA hopes that the Department of Communications will contribute, admitting that it does have a contingency plan in place if some money is not forthcoming.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in July 2010 ICASA withdrew its offer for telcos to apply for radio frequency spectrum licences in the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands. The deadline was initially set for 30 June 2010, and later extended to 30 July. It was believed that ICASA pulled the plug on the auction because it needed to revise the licences in line with certain technological considerations. ICASA also admitted that it was seeking an overseas auctioneer to assist it with the process, after struggling to find an appropriately qualified auctioneer locally. Under guidelines issued in May 2010, bidding is slated to start at ZAR750,000 (USD111,543). ICASA requires 2.6GHz licensees to achieve population coverage of 50% within two years of being granted the spectrum. A new date for the tender has yet to be revealed.