The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has granted provisional spectrum to six telco operators. The telecoms regulator expects to raise US$12.3 million from this provisional spectrum, which will benefit the national fiscus.
The above mentioned comes after the regulator invited operators to apply for provisional spectrum after telling them they had until the end of November to return the temporary spectrum issued to telcos in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
The decision to return the temporary spectrum was met with opposition from the telcos, who took ICASA to court, claiming that South Africa was still in a state of disaster due to the pandemic and that the regulator was still to auction the much-needed spectrum.
The telcos also argued that reclaiming the temporary spectrum would jeopardise mobile data supply in South Africa. This is because the operators have largely used the temporary spectrum to launch 5G services and meet increased data demand as more people began working and learning from home.
ICASA said in a statement that it had completed its analysis of applications for provisional assignment of radiofrequency spectrum under the new ICT COVID-19 National State of Disaster Regulations 2021.
It states that the licenses are valid for seven months, beginning December 1, 2021, and ending June 30, 2022 – or three months after the National State of Disaster is lifted, whichever comes first.
Rain Networks, Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom, Liquid Intelligence Technologies, and MTN, were among the six operators that submitted applications by the deadline of November 17, 2021.
Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng, the chairperson of ICASA, expressed his gratitude to all applicants and emphasised the importance of using these provisional assignments to expedite the permanent high-demand spectrum licensing process.