South African spectrum auction may move to March

South African spectrum auction may move to March

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) – the country’s telecommunications regulator – has announced a new final date for the long-awaited auction of high-demand spectrum.

According to TeleGeography's CommsUpdate, the auction will now be held no later than 31 March 2021, three months later than the previously announced December 2020 deadline.

ICASA has confirmed on its website that the Invitation To Apply (ITA) for both the Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN) and the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) spectrum, also known as high-demand spectrum, will be published no later than 30 September this year.

Among the frequencies to be auctioned will be the 700MHz and 800MHz bands formerly used for analogue TV (which is transitioning to digital), as well as spectrum in the 2300MHz, 2600MHz and 3500MHz bands. Applicants will be bidding for 60MHz (2×30MHz) in the 700MHz band, 60MHz (2×30MHz) in the 800MHz band, 40MHz in the 2300MHz band, 170MHz in the 2600MHz band, and 116MHz in the 3500MHz band. There will be a number of conditions regarding data speeds, access for MVNOs and capacity purchase from the WOAN.

ICASA says the auction delay, first highlighted in July, was occasioned by, among other factors, the prioritisation of the release of Covid-19 emergency spectrum, additional considerations relating to the viability of the WOAN and also the fact that ICASA’s decision-making council was almost inquorate for a period of close to three months.