The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has decided that temporary radio frequency spectrum assigned to telecoms licensees must be returned no later than 30 November 2021. The temporary spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2300MHz, 2600MHz and 3500MHz bands was first assigned in April 2020 on the initial declaration of the National State of Disaster due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ICASA has since twice extended the duration of the temporary spectrum assignment, the previous proposed expiry date being 31 August 2021.
A public release states: ‘The Authority has inter alia taken account of the current environment in relation to the number of infections, the gradual reopening of the economy and the steady progress in the vaccination program. More importantly, the Authority is mindful of the need to focus its efforts on the permanent licensing of spectrum. However, it is important that the industry be allowed adequate time to plan and adjust their operations.’