ICT Policy paper approved by government, ICASA ordered to halt spectrum auction

4 Oct 2016

The South African government has approved the ICT Policy White Paper, which has been in development since 2012, with the document outlining the establishment of a Wireless Open Access Network (OAN). Under the new framework, all wireless service providers in the country will be required to return their previously assigned spectrum, which in turn will be allocated to the OAN. ‘This will ensure that operators with significant market power do not leverage access to their infrastructure and critical resources to maintain dominance and deny market access to competition’, the white paper states. Following the adoption of the White Paper, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) will be required to conduct an industry-wide public consultation process to determine the terms and conditions, as well as the time frame, under which the currently exclusively/individually assigned high demand spectrum will be returned to the regulator.

Meanwhile, ICASA has been ordered by the North Gauteng High Court to halt its planned LTE spectrum auction, TechCentral reports. ‘ICASA is interdicted and prevented from implementing the licensing steps and processes referred to in the Invitation to Apply [ITA]’, judge Roland Sutherland said, adding that the regulator was also banned from accepting any bids for the ITA pending an application from Cell C to launch court proceedings against it, provided that the papers are served before 14 October. The ruling was handed after South Africa’s Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, filed an application in August 2016 to block the proposed auction of LTE-suitable spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 2600MHz bands – scheduled to take place in March 2017.