‘Use it or lose it’: SA comms minister issues spectrum trading proposal

9 Sep 2022

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, South Africa’s Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, has published a draft policy document proposing the trading of radio frequency spectrum for the first time. The long-awaited proposal is included in the ‘Next Generation Radio Frequency Spectrum Policy for Economic Development (Spectrum Policy)’, that was issued on 8 September.

With regards to spectrum hoarding, the document states: ‘The spectrum policy supports an efficiency in utilisation of spectrum resources, and given the scarcity and value of spectrum to national development, hoarding of spectrum is not permissible … The regulator should put measures in place that prevents hoarding of spectrum including mechanisms for the implementation of the “use it or lose it” principle … Licensed spectrum that is unused for a period of more than 24-months will be subjected to the use it or lose it principle.’

The document continues: ‘To promote economic development, market-based approaches such as spectrum trading, spectrum sharing, dynamic spectrum access use, and spectrum subletting and/or sharing between licensees which ensures public policy gains in the use of spectrum are permitted with prior approval of the regulator. The regulator must set standard operating rules, and terms and conditions applicable for trading, sharing, and sub-letting of spectrum.’

South Africa