The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has published three Final Radio Frequency Spectrum Assignment Plans (RFSAPs) for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) Systems.
The finalisation of these three RFSAPs, after further consultation with stakeholders, brings to a close the public notice and the public consultation process to a full set of ten RFSAPs, initiated in Government Gazette No 46160 on 31 March 2022.
The three bands are:
• 450 MHz to 470 MHz (IMT450);
• 825 MHz to 830 MHz and 870 MHz to 875 MHz (IMT850);
• 1427 MHz to 1518 MHz (IMT1500).
The promulgation of this next set of RFSAPs formalises the rules and spectrum arrangements governing a number of key spectrum bands used for mobile services. These three RFSAPs, together with the Reasons Document, can be found in Government Gazette No 48353.
All three bands dealt with in this set of RFSAPs are earmarked to be auctioned at a future date. These RFSAPs also make provisions to deal with incumbent users in IMT450 (Transnet) and IMT850 (Liquid).
The IMT450 band will be allocated for digital and IMT services only, with the possible provision of exclusion zones for some government users.
From the IMT 850 band, Liquid is to be migrated to the IMT900 band, thus freeing up the full IMT800 band for effective use by those Licensees who bought that spectrum in last year’s auction, once the analogue switch-off is complete.
In the case of IMT1500, the Authority has decided that the full 1427 – 1517 MHz will be allocated to Mobile / Fixed Communications Networks Supplementary Downlink (MFCN SDL) and to IMT 5G-NR TDD / SDL.
The finalisation of the current set of ten Radio Frequency Spectrum Assignment Plans marks a key milestone in making sufficient spectrum available to licensees, on a technology-neutral basis, in order to enable the rollout and uptake of 4G and 5G services across South Africa. It also frees up important additional spectrum for the auction currently planned for early 2024.
ICASA is already considering additional spectrum bands for further public consultation in the form of a new round of Radio Frequency Spectrum Assignment Plans,” adds Dr Lewis. “A forward-looking approach to spectrum is vital to enable the development of new services to meet the evolving demands of the market.”Dr. Charley Lewis, Committee Chairperson, ICASA