South Africa’s telecoms regulator ICASA has issued an invitation for a tender to evaluate high-demand spectrum bands ahead of the planned assignment of the frequencies. The watchdog said: ‘ICASA wishes to appoint consultants to provide consultancy services to assist it with determination of the fair economic value of the IMT700, IMT800, IMT2300, IMT2600 and IMT3500 radio frequency spectrum.’ ICASA will hold a briefing for parties interested in bidding for the consultancy tender on 6 August, while the deadline for submitting bids is set as 20 August.
The development comes after new telecoms minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams released a policy direction to ICASA on the assignment of new frequencies, asking that preferential access to spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 2600MHz bands is given to a new wholesale open-access network (WOAN) in an effort to increase competition in South Africa’s mobile telecoms market. Although the new policy envisages that only a fraction of the new airwaves be awarded to the WOAN (previous government plans stated that all frequencies should be awarded to it), successful bidders in the spectrum auction have to commit to buying at least 30% of their national capacity from the WOAN. In addition, Ndabeni-Abrahams said that the assignment of spectrum suitable for 5G networks will be undertaken after the ITU’s Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) at the end of the year.