Licensing of high-demand spectrum imminent, says ICASA
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) advises stakeholders that the announcement of qualified bidders in terms of the International Mobile Telecommunications invitation to apply of 2 October 2020 has been moved from the initial date of 22 February 2021 to 23 March 2021.
The regulator says this, therefore, means the auction phase – which comprises, among others, the bidder seminar, the mock auction and the actual auction – will commence by 31 March 2021.
ICASA plans to complete the spectrum auctioning process next month, although operators MTN and Telkom have sued the regulator, claiming the process is flawed.
The court cases are threatening to derail the spectrum auction process.
Operators have been waiting for this spectrum for over a decade in order for them to expand services like 5G, as well as to bring down mobile data prices. The fiscus will also get a boost from the planned auction.
ICASA adds that one of the critical milestones in this regard is the conclusion of a contract with the external and independent auctioneer who will be overseeing and managing the entire auction process.
“The conclusion of a contract and appointment of the service provider for the auction remains a key factor, and we remain confident that we are not off the track but in a better position to complete the licensing of high-demand spectrum,” says ICASA chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng.
Furthermore, ICASA notes Modimoeng assures all stakeholders that the authority carries the aspirations of the entire nation, and will make sure the process is concluded with the necessary speed but without untoward haste.
“We indeed assure all stakeholders of our steadfast commitment towards public interest, and hereby give certainty that the licensing of high-demand spectrum is imminent,” concludes Dr Modimoeng.