South Africa takes a closer look at its RF needs

South Africa takes a closer look at its RF needs

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has published what it calles the Draft Radio Frequency Migration Plan (Draft RFMP) and the Draft International Mobile Telecommunication Roadmap (Draft IMTR) for public consultation.

These draft documents, says the regulator, 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.

The Draft IMT-R, on the other hand, deals specifically with the Authority’s proposals for the allocation and assignment of spectrum allocated to mobile service and identified for International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT) systems.

As ICASA points out, 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, says the authority, is the need to ensure that mobile broadband plays its role in meeting the vision of Broadband for All encapsulated in the SA Connect programme and the National Development Plan 2030.

SA Connect is a programme to connect all government departments to the internet as well as provide free Wi-Fi and subsidised broadband to low-income and rural communities.

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. Global and regional harmonisation of radio frequency spectrum is described as “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”.

This news comes hard on the heels of the State IT Agency’s (SITA’s) plans to launch a R6-billion (about US$324.6 million) project to build broadband infrastructure across South Africa. The project will complement the government’s existing SA Connect project. 

Full details of the plan and its timetable do not, so far, appear to been published.

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