South African regulator to release spectrum on a temporary basis

South African regulator to release spectrum on a temporary basis

The South African government’s request to the country’s communications regulator to issue additional spectrum to operators, reported here recently, has now been taken up by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).

According to reports from South Africa, ICASA has invited operators to apply for additional spectrum to help them to meet increased demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The spectrum is to be released on a temporary basis. In fact ICASA apparently intends to make high-demand spectrum available only for the duration of the emergency. The aim, as in many other countries where a lockdown is in place and increased demand expected, is not only to ease network congestion but also to maintain good quality of broadband services. ICASA has also referred to enabling licensees to lower the cost of access for consumers.

The spectrum will come from the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2300MHz, 2600MHz and 3500MHz bands. Companies will need to submit applications by 9 April.

However, South African plans to hold an auction for additional frequencies are expected to be finalised by the end of 2020 and ICASA has been keen to emphasise that this temporary release of spectrum will not affect processes underway for the permanent assignment of spectrum.

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