ICASA Opens Invites for Network Operators for The Provisional Assignment of Radio Frequency Spectrum

ICASA has announced that they have opened invites to mobile network operators for the provisional assignment of radio frequency spectrum under the new ICT COVID-19 National State of Disaster Regulations, 2021.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA/the Authority) has resolved to invite applications from infrastructure-based mobile network operators for provisional assignment of radio frequency spectrum under the new ICT COVID-19 National State of Disaster Regulations, 2021.

In this regard, ICASA has decided to make available the following International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) bands available for provisional assignment effective from 1 December 2021 i.e. 700MHz, 800MHz, 2300MHz, 2600MHz and 3500MHz bands. All qualifying licensees will have five (5) working days to submit their applications to the Authority i.e. applications must be submitted by no later than 16h00 on Wednesday, 17 November 2021.

The Authority has resolved to implement the provisional assignment arrangement for a seven (7) month period ending 30 June 2022, or three months after the termination of the National State of Disaster, whichever comes first. The bands shall be assigned in accordance with the criteria and conditions stipulated by the Authority in the ICT COVID-19 National State of Disaster Regulations.

The Authority will consider the applications and make a final decision by no later than 26 November 2021.

The Authority believes that it is in the best interest of the public to have a provisional spectrum licensing arrangement in place over the next 7 months. This will enable all other inherent licensing processes to conclude while mitigating any possible service disruptions.

“ICASA is not a spectrum-hoarding regulator. All we want is ultimately a competitive, transparent, and all-inclusive spectrum licensing regime and plans are afoot in that regard. The provisional spectrum licensing arrangement is an improved pro-competitive interim measure but is not a permanent process considering its limited participatory scope. This provisional arrangement is tailored to deal with any network issues which may affect the provision of services to consumers in the intervening period.”

Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng, Chairperson, ICASA

Operators who wish to participate in this process will, amongst others, pay an application fee, an acquisition fee as well as the spectrum licence (utilization) fee in line with the spectrum applied for.

The Authority remains committed to permanently licence the high demand spectrum in accordance with the truncated timetable as published on 1 October 2021.

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