ICASA Extends Temporary Frequency Spectrum Assignments Until 31 August

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has completed the review of the ICT COVID-19 National Disaster Regulations and decided to extend the temporary radio frequency spectrum assignments issued to licensees for a further three months.

Dr. Keabetswe Modimoeng, Chairperson of ICASA
Dr. Keabetswe Modimoeng, Chairperson of ICASA

The Authority hopes that all key stakeholders will use this period to find a resolution to the spectrum litigation impasse. The Chairperson of ICASA, Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng urges active litigants to participate in the ongoing settlement negotiations in order to resolve the matter.

“The three-month extension affords an opportunity for all stakeholders to find a resolution to the spectrum litigation impasse. Unfortunately, at some stage we will not be able to continually extend these temporary spectrum assignments when a more permanent licensing route is struck through litigation. We need to come to the negotiations with well-meaning intentions, as soon as possible to resolve this ongoing legal stand-off. We cannot perpetuate a pandemic-specific temporary arrangement to a point where it amounts to a backdoor spectrum licensing regime. High-demand Spectrum ought to be licensed in a transparent and competitive manner; hence any other way is unjustifiable in the long run.”

Chairperson of ICASA, Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng

The Authority first published the ICT COVID-19 National Disaster Regulations on 6 April 2020 following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Pursuant to the publication of these Regulations there have been various adjustments of the lockdown levels by the National Command Council, which ICASA continues to observe.

“It has been over a year and the government – guided by scientific evidence – has also been extending the national disaster period on a month-to-month basis, which is clearly an indication that there is no permanence in this regard.”

Chairperson of ICASA, Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng

On 23 April 2021, the Authority published a Notice on the review of the Regulations in the Government Gazette, seeking written submissions from interested stakeholders in an effort to comprehensively review the current Regulations. The Authority has since received written submissions in that regard.

Broadcasting service licensees play a critical role in the dissemination of information about the Covid-19 pandemic and related public announcements. Dr Modimoeng encourages broadcasters to ensure that they adhere to the new adjustments on, among others, local content, as well as the requirements to ensure that information reaches all sectors of society, including persons with disabilities.

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