Telecoms minister challenges ICASA’s plans to allocate mobile spectrum

26 Jul 2016

South Africa’s Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, is seeking to halt the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) from proceeding with plans to allocate spectrum in 700MHz, 800MHz and 2600MHz bands for wireless broadband services. According to a statement posted on the website of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Cwele intends to launch legal action to review the actions of the ICASA, as the government has yet to finalise the policy on how the spectrum should be allocated. ‘The position of the government is that it is the custodian of spectrum, which is a national and public resource and whose utilisation must benefit all the people of South Africa. There is presently no policy direction on spectrum that has been issued. The policy process is ongoing but as yet is still incomplete,’ the statement said. It added that the minister is concerned that the ICASA’s Invitation to Apply (ITA) for the spectrum was ‘issued without consultation and prior notification to the government as the policy maker’.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this month the ICASA issued an ITA for spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 2600MHz bands to all interested parties wishing to provide wireless broadband services. The regulator said that awarding frequencies in the aforementioned bands would ensure nationwide broadband access for all citizens by 2020, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) and the South Africa Connect Policy.