JOHANNESBURG - Another hurdle to South African mobile operators gaining access to spectrum was crossed on Thursday after the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) Thursday it would issue the information memorandum on the licensing process for spectrum by December.
In a statement it said that before the end of the third quarter of the fiscal year it would publish the Information Memorandum on the licensing process for the International Mobile Telecommunications spectrum or what is also "referred to as high demand spectrum".
Icasa said the publication of the memorandum was an important step in the licensing process for the release of the high demand spectrum in order to give effect to government’s policy objectives of "ensuring broadband access for all, transformation of the ICT sector, lower data costs, promote competition and ensure inclusive economic growth".
The South African government has been heavily criticised for it failure to act swiftly on spectrum, which has left South Africans footing hefty data bills for mobile data and cellphone operators out of the 5G race.
"The Information Memorandum outlines the Authority’s approach on the licensing of the spectrum following the publication of the Policy on High Demand Spectrum and Policy Direction on the Licensing of a Wireless Open Access Network (the Policy Direction) by the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies.
The Authority is enjoined in terms of section 3(4) of the Electronic Communications Act, 2005 to consider policies and policy directions issued by the Minister. To this end, the Authority is considering the Policy Direction, which consideration will inform the Authority’s position to be outlined in the Information Memorandum."
It said the memorandum was also intended to provide guidance to stakeholders and prospective applicants on the process and criteria to be applied by the Icasa in the licensing of the spectrum.
Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng, the acting chairperson of Icasa, said,"Through the publication of the Information Memorandum, the Authority further provides an opportunity to stakeholders and prospective applicants alike to make inputs and representations on the proposed licensing process, associated criteria and timelines.”
He said the licensing of high demand spectrum was a critical components to deploy digital infrastructure to ensure that South Africans could participate "meaningfully in the opportunities emanating from the Fourth Industrial Revolution".
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