Communications regulator Icasa on Thursday set out a timetable for the licensing of so-called “high-demand spectrum”, saying it plans to expedite the long-delayed process.
For the first time, the regulator has published a detailed schedule for when it plans to get key aspects of the licensing process concluded.
This will start today, 1 October, with the publication of an information memorandum (IM) for consultation and will be followed by:
- A workshop on the IM: 15 October 2021
- Closing date for receiving public representations to the IM: 1 November 2021
- Publication of a second IM for consultation: 15 November 2021
- Closing date for comments: 29 November 2021
- Publication of the invitation to apply (ITA): 10 December 2021
- Closing date for receiving new and revised applications to the ITA: 31 January 2022
- Announcement of qualified bidders: 21 February 2022
- Start of the auction process: 1 March 2022
At the same time, Icasa has published a scheduled for the expedited licensing of a planned wholesale open-access network (Woan):
- Commencement of process to reconsider the composite ITA for an individual electronic communications network services licence and radio frequency spectrum licence for the purpose of operating a Woan: 1 October 2021
- Publication of a consultation document in respect of the draft amended composite ITA: 19 November 2021
- Closing date for receiving written representations on the consultation document: 10 January 2022
- Publication of amended composite ITA for the Woan: 14 February 2022
- Public workshops on the amended composite ITA: 15 March 2022
- Closing date for receipt of applications: 13 May 2022
Icasa said it will not grant extension to any of the dates published in the schedules.
The publication of the timetables — which will be seen as aggressive by the industry — comes after Icasa agreed to a consent order from high court last month that ended litigation instituted against it by Telkom and eMedia Holdings, the parent of broadcaster e.tv.
“The court granted an order to review and set aside the authority’s decision to publish the ITAs for both the high demand spectrum and Woan. The court further directed that the matter be referred to the authority for reconsideration. In framing the truncated timetable and road map, the authority was mindful of the need for the expedited licensing process to be completed with exigency while adhering to a comprehensive and transparent consultative process,” said Icasa chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng in a statement.
Icasa will consider the impact of the ITAs on competition, the radio frequency bands to be licensed in view of the yet-to-be-completed digital television migration process, and the nature and extent of obligations to be imposed.
“Pursuant to the consultation process, the authority may amend and/or re-issue the ITAs with a view to conducting an auction by the end of the current financial year (March 2022),” Modimoeng said.
“All things being equal, we envisage to licence the IMT spectrum no later than end of March 2022,” said Modimoeng. “We would like to urge all interested stakeholders to participate fully in this consultative engagement and to engage openly and robustly to ensure that no further impediments are placed in the way of the finalisation of this critical economic intervention.”