The Wireless Access Providers Association (Wapa) warned on Thursday that millions of dollars of planned investment in television white-spaces (TVWS) Internet technology in South Africa is at risk over regulatory delays.
This comes after TechCentral reported on Wednesday that the Black IT Forum is threatening to drag communications regulator Icasa to court if it doesn’t immediately move to commercialise TVWS technology.
There is growing unhappiness among prospective TVWS operators and their technology suppliers over what they see as delays by Icasa in allowing the full commercialisation of the technology, TechCentral has learnt from multiple sources.
Icasa has hit back at its critics, though, saying it’s following the correct processes and denying that there have been delays for which it is responsible.
Wapa has now weighed, with its chairman, Tim Genders, warning that investments worth millions of dollars are at risk. Genders didn’t name the investors.
“We know of multimillion-dollar investment plans that expected commercial TVWS to be completed by May 2020. The delay may cause the investment to go elsewhere,” Genders said.
“The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need to get fixed broadband into every South African home. Currently, only 10% of homes enjoy that privilege. Icasa has issued spectrum under Covid-19 but this has favoured the incumbent large players.” he said.
“Wapa encourages Icasa to lead the way in connecting the unconnected. We would rather see court action against Icasa due to it releasing too much spectrum as opposed to holding back. Any delay on issuing spectrum and the net winners are the large mobile network operators, while the net losers are 90% of the population who don’t enjoy fixed broadband to their homes at an affordable price.”