ICASA Proposes Radio Frequency Migration and Mobile Telecom Roadmap

ICASA releases draft plans to align radio frequency spectrum allocation with global standards, focusing on mobile broadband.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has published the Draft Radio Frequency Migration Plan (Draft RFMP) and the Draft International Mobile Telecommunication Roadmap (Draft IMTR) for public consultation. These draft documents aim to ensure proper alignment and co-ordination of the allocation and assignment of radio frequency spectrum in South Africa.

The Draft RFMP in particular is required in order to bring the South African National Radio Frequency Plan (NRFP) in line with the Final Acts of the World Radio Conference 2023 (WRC-23), and in turn, with the latest Resolutions of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations.  In the main, the Draft RFMP, sets out specific changes and requirements for Specific Radiocommunications Frequency spectrum, including those identified for IMT (i.e. spectrum used by mobile licensees) in South Africa, taking into consideration the 2013 and 2019 Radio Frequency Migration Plans.

The Draft IMT-R, on the other hand, deals specifically with the Authority’s proposals for the allocation and assignment of spectrum allocated to the Mobile Service and Identified for International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT) systems.  The Draft IMT-R aims to ensure alignment with the prescripts of the National Radio Frequency Plan (NRFP) of 2021, the Final Acts of WRC-23 and the ITU’s Radio Regulations.

In recent years, mobile broadband services have emerged as the most popular solution for the advancement of broadband technologies and related communication services, thereby encouraging the Authority to put in place critical steps and responses to national expectations, through the IMT Roadmap which was last updated in 2019.

A key driver for the deployment of IMT radio frequency spectrum bands is the need to ensure that mobile broadband plays its role in meeting the vision of ‘Broadband for All’ encapsulated in the SA Connect and the National Development Plan 2030.

The proposed updates to the Radio Frequency Migration Plan and the IMT Roadmap are imperative to meet and comply with the evolving requirements set forth by the ITU, encompassing the Final Acts of the World Radio Conference of 2023 and the ITU Radio Regulations. With a steadfast commitment to long-term spectrum planning, our aim is to guarantee the optimal allocation of spectrum, prioritising its assignment to those who value it most. This ensures the highest efficiency in spectrum utilisation.

Councillor Cathrine Mushi, Acting Chairperson, ICASA

Among other provisions in the current National Radio Frequency Plan of 2021 is the incorporation of globally harmonised frequency bands in the Low, Mid and High ranges identified for IMT Systems in order to reap the benefits associated with the capabilities of IMT‑2020 (5G), IMT-2030 (6G) and beyond, given the ongoing evolution of the generations of mobile technologies.  

Global and regional harmonisation of radio frequency spectrum is an important initiative that allows South Africa to enjoy the benefits of the economies of scale and scope, and to warrant the introduction of new technologies with greater spin-offs for our people.

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