The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has released an information memorandum concerning licensing additional radio frequency spectrum for mobile networks.
In the memorandum, the telecom regulator noted it intends to publish several other low-frequency and mid-band spectrums and has invited industry stakeholders to give their views.
In March 2022, the regulator auctioned off a trove of spectrum after years of delays and in the face of an ongoing lawsuit by state-owned operator Telkom.
The auction raised almost US$869 million for the National Treasury, with Vodacom and MTN bidding over US$299 million each.
The regulator licensed 326MHz of spectrum, 210MHz of which most went to South Africa’s two biggest operators, doubling their spectrum holdings.
Following the auction, Vodacom and MTN both have around 42MHz of capacity in frequency bands below 900MHz, while Telkom has 20MHz.
Telkom also acquired some lower-frequency spectrum that it had been lacking. As a result, it continues to hold more spectrum than Vodacom or MTN.
However, one lot of spectrum remained unsold — 20MHz in the lower frequency 800MHz band.
As part of its settlement with Telkom to drop its legal challenge against the spectrum auction, the regulator agreed to start licensing frequencies that remained unassigned by 30 June 2022.
Icasa committed to concluding this licensing process within its current financial year, which ends on 31 March 2023.
In its information memorandum released on 17 August, Icasa said it is embarking on the second phase of the licensing process that began with the spectrum auction in March.
The regulator intends to licence the unsold band from the auction and several additional frequency bands.