SA govt reveals planned WOAN spectrum allocation

1 Oct 2018

South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) report on how much spectrum should be reserved for the planned wholesale open access network (WOAN) operator has been released. TechCentral writes that the CSIR has suggested that the minimum spectrum to be made available to the WOAN (based on 20% market share, or around ten million customers) should be 2×25MHz in the 800MHz band, 2×20MHz of paired (FDD) spectrum at 2600MHz and 25MHz of unpaired (TDD) spectrum at 2600MHz, with all excess capacity to be distributed among other industry players. The South African government wants to create the WOAN to increase competition in South Africa’s wireless market, though the decision has drawn heavy criticism from a number of industry players, with the GSMA stating in August 2017 that ‘a move to wholesale networks will harm consumers, as history has demonstrated that network monopolies normally result in high prices and lower investment in infrastructure’.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, last week the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and Minister of Telecommunications Siyabonga Cwele agreed to settle a 2016 legal dispute that derailed plans to stage a multi-band spectrum auction. Back in August 2016, Minister Cwele filed an application to block the proposed auction of LTE-suitable spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 2600MHz bands, after objecting to the invitation to apply (ITA) which the watchdog issued on 15 July 2016. Following the belated resolution of the situation, a new draft policy governing the spectrum auction has been put out for consultation, with public comments invited until 8 November.