To recall, in March 2021, the Pretoria High Court halted the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (ICASA) planned spectrum auction and licencing what was due to commence on 31 March 2021. The halt was an outcome of the court ruling, which after telecommunications group Telkom filed for the suspension on the basis that the Invitation-To-Apply (ITA) was fundamentally flawed.
Due to the legal battle over the ITA, the high demand spectrum’s release date remains uncertain, which has led industry experts to believe that allocation may not happen this year. However, tangible progress has been seen compared to where the process was in the previous year.
The high demand spectrum auction has been a centre of a battlefield for over ten years, with the industry desperate to obtain the spectrum required to lower prices and deploy 5G services.
During the MyBroadband Conference, Dominic Cull, the owner of Ellipsis, said there had been much progress. Granted, the spectrum is essential to mobile network operators; however, it has also been visibly crucial to the government as a revenue source. The government has been providing ICASA with resources to enable the correct implementation of the spectrum process, he added.
Cull highlighted that ICASA had done what was needed: having an ITA that is workable; hence, ICASA is pushing and standing by it.
Further, there are efforts to intervene provide mediation which then proves the importance of this process, not just for the industry but for South Africa at large, Cull pointed out.