JOHANNESBURG – The Competition Commission said on Friday that the government’s latest policy directive on high demand spectrum was critical to promoting data affordability for the struggling South African economy and consumers.
The antitrust body said it welcomed the government’s announcement that the spectrum licensing process would include measures to promote competition, transformation, inclusive growth of the sector and universal access.
“At a time when public finances are under such pressure, it is tempting to try to maximise revenues by simply auctioning spectrum to the highest bidder. High demand spectrum is a scarce national resource and its allocation should be done in a manner which ultimately benefits the citizens of the country,” said the commission.
The commission said it would continue engagements with communications regulator, the Independent Communications Authority (Icasa), on the planned licensing of 4G/LTE and future 5G spectrum in terms of the design and execution of spectrum licensing in line with the policy directive.
“The commission will specifically engage around how a spectrum licensing process may ensure not only universal coverage but also access, which requires a level of universal affordability and not just technical availability,” it said. The commission said this migh include obligations to ensure affordable data prices immediately, but also how relative allocations between operators may shape competition going forward into new generation networks such as 5G.