ICASA postpones LTE auction ‘until further notice’

20 Feb 2017

South African telecoms regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has postponed its planned auction of LTE-suitable spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 2600MHz bands ‘until further notice’, TechCentral writes. The auction is the subject of a legal challenge by Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele; the official filed an application in August 2016 to block the proposed spectrum auction, following which ICASA was ordered by the North Gauteng High Court to halt the spectrum allocation process. The move was sparked as the planned spectrum auction is at direct odds with the government’s ICT Policy White Paper (published in October 2016), which outlines 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. While government has affirmed its plans to proceed with the establishment of an OAN, ICASA has refused to budge, insisting that a spectrum auction is the best way of allocating scarce spectrum, in addition to being in line with international best practices.