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Icasa extends temporary spectrum assignments

After spectrum auction delayed by legal action.
Regulator says it needs to ‘delicately apply’ itself on the extensions. Image: Shutterstock

Communications regulator Icasa has extended the temporary allocation of emergency spectrum under South Africa’s disaster management regulations by two months. This is after the authority’s spectrum auction, which should have happened this month, was delayed by legal action.

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The industry authority said on Friday that it has “resolved” to review the regulations and extend the temporary assignment for another two months – from March 31 to May 31.

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The move will provide some relief to operators that would have been assigned new spectrum suitable for deploying 4G and 5G services through the auction process.

“Following the expiry of the temporary spectrum extension on 31 May 2021, the authority will embark on a comprehensive review of the ICT Covid-19 national disaster regulations, which include the radio frequency spectrum extensions, as well as the relaxation of compliance requirements in respect of local content for broadcasters, and type-approval obligations,” Icasa said in a statement.

“As mobile network operators continue to provide services while deriving commercial value from this high-value spectrum resource, we need to delicately apply ourselves on these extensions in a manner that is justifiable and primarily beneficial to the South African public,” said Icasa chair Keabetswe Modimoeng.

‘Dig deep’

“We will be doing so over the next two months, while expediting our appeal processes on the formal licensing court interdict. Industry needs to dig deep and assist the process further by modelling the best pro-consumer offerings on the back of these temporary licences.”

Earlier this month, Telkom and e.tv secured an interdict against Icasa, preventing the spectrum auction from taking place until the merits of their concerns about the process could be heard by the high court.

In terms of the order, which was handed down by the high court in Pretoria, Icasa is interdicted from assessing or adjudicating any applications received under its invitation to apply to participate in the spectrum auction.

At the same time, the court suspended the closing date for the submission of applications for the licence to operate a wholesale open-access network, or Woan.

Telkom filed papers against Icasa at the high court in December because it believed the regulator’s invitations to apply for spectrum and the Woan had fundamental flaws that could entrench the “dominance” of Vodacom and MTN. — © 2021 NewsCentral Media

Duncan McLeod is editor of TechCentral on which this article was first published, here.

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