The Independent Communications Authority (Icasa) last week released licences for the so-called provisional radio frequency spectrum and aims to award permanent spectrum licences in March next year.

The provisional spectrum marks the end of temporary spectrum assignments given to operators at the height of Covid-19 to ease network pressure in April last year. Icasa said the provisional spectrum assignment arrangement comes into effect on Wednesday (December 1) and licences are valid for seven months – or three months after the termination of the National State of Disaster, whichever came first.

Icasa chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng said the provisional spectrum assignment remained an interim measure, intended to improve communication services for consumers in the intervening period, with the goal being to permanently license the spectrum through an auction starting in March 2022.

“This provisional licensing phase attempts temporarily to address competition concerns and levy appropriate fees, but a more all-inclusive regime will be yielded through a competitive bidding approach,” said Modimoeng.

Icasa said through this provisional spectrum assignment arrangement and its related fees the authority would in the short term raise about R200 million for the national fiscus.

Icasa said by the closing date of applications last Wednesday (November 17) the authority had received six applications, from Rain Networks, Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom, Liquid Intelligence Technologies, and MTN.

Icasa said the licences were issued for radio frequency spectrum for the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2600 MHz and 3500 MHz bands.

In terms of spectrum in the IMT700 MHz band, MTN was awarded 10 MHz; Telkom received 20 MHz, Vodacom 10 MHz and Rain Networks 20 MHz.


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