The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has moved the deadline for public comment on the second phase of the spectrum licensing process.
This comes after ICASA announced last month that it is preparing to license more low- and mid-frequency spectrum to providers of broadband services.
At the time, ICASA said the continued growth in data traffic necessitated the demand for more spectrum, and it expected to conclude this process by March 2023.
In a statement issued yesterday, ICASA says the deadline for public submissions on the information memorandum (IM) noting its intention to begin the second phase of the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) licensing process is now 30 September.
The telecoms regulator notes the change is in response to requests from some stakeholders, and it allows everyone to engage on the IM and make meaningful contributions.
“The second phase of the IMT spectrum licencing process will provide licensees with additional capacity to meet the ongoing demand for capacity growth in mobile services,” says councillor Peter Zimri.
According to ICASA, the IM seeks input from interested stakeholders on the IMT radio frequency spectrum bands to be considered during the second phase of the licensing process.
Interested parties must therefore submit written representations to the authority, including an electronic version of the representations in Microsoft Word, by no later than 4pm on the specified date. No further extension shall be granted, indicates the regulator.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, data usage has ballooned in SA as most services moved online, prompting authorities to call for cheaper data services.
Interventions by government on the issue include reducing data costs for and expanding broadband access to low-income households.
Earlier this month, the communications ministry gazetted the “Next-Generation Radio Frequency Spectrum Draft Policy”, commonly known as the spectrum policy.
Through this policy, government aims to promote long-term public interest derived from the use of spectrum as a finite natural resource.
Furthermore, the state is committed to ensure small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) access spectrum and participate in the ICT sector.
“The current spectrum regime of South Africa continues to exclude SMMEs and new entrants in the data market in favour of a few market players,” said communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
“Through this policy, we aim to adopt a spectrum management approach that promotes SMME participation and emergence of new entrants to the ICT sector. Our commitment of economic inclusion through the participation of SMMEs in the ICT sector remains a priority.”