Government fast-tracks spectrum policy

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Government says it's moving towards finalising the policy directive on radio frequency spectrum allocation.

According to a statement, this finalisation gives effect to the 2019 State of the Nation Address (SONA) in which president Cyril Ramaphosa designated communications minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, to issue a policy direction to the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) for the licensing of high-demand radio frequency spectrum.

Ramaphosa used this year's SONA to tell the nation that Ndabeni-Abrahams would "shortly be issuing policy direction" to ICASA for the licensing of spectrum.

Furthermore, finance minister Tito Mboweni, in his budget speech, indicated plans to "work relentlessly" with the minister to ensure the issue is resolved.

To this end, Ndabeni-Abrahams has "extensively engaged ICASA with regards to the aforementioned policy directive", according to her ministry.

"Further, and to ensure the regulator is adequately resourced to effectively conduct the spectrum licensing process once the policy directive is issued, the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services has reprioritised its finances and transferred R10 million to ICASA."

The funds, explains the Department of Communications, will provide for the requisite additional human and financial resources that will be borne by the regulator.

Ndabeni-Abrahams has also invited sector stakeholders to provide written submissions on their interpretation of the definition of the spectrum licensing process to ensure an inclusive approach.

"A meeting with the stakeholders is scheduled for 2 April to further deliberate on the submissions and finalise the consultations.

"This move and plans by government will fast-track 4G spectrum assignment, which operators have been waiting for many years. It will also help transform the sector by attracting new investments while hastening the growth of mobile communications in the country," reads the statement.

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