South Africa’s Telecoms regulator invites applications for broadband spectrum bidding

ICASA broadband spectrum invitations

South Africa’s telecoms regulator, ICASA, has announced that it will soon send out invitations to apply for broadband spectrum for both the Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN) and the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT).

ICASA Chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng said that, the spectrum auction proceeds will have broader economic benefits for the country as they will also incentivize broadband infrastructure investment and thus stimulate economic growth.

He said that the release of spectrum was critical to ensure continued provision of good quality broadband services and the lowering of the cost to communicate (particularly data costs) in South Africa.

The Authority will make available 406 MHz of spectrum for the provision of mobile broadband services in South Africa.

Given the scarcity of spectrum, this has the potential to shape future competition in mobile markets in South Africa and the extent to which individual national 1 and/or sub-national 2 wholesalers are able to credibly compete with each other.

The main objective from the competition assessment is that the Authority, through the awarding of this spectrum, is to ensure that the Authority expand the market.

This initiative by ICASA will provide better quality of services for all mobile services users, irrespective of the area they reside in within the country.  

However, various empowerment obligations are to be imposed on the successful bidders in the auction process, including a requirement to support mobile virtual network operators and for successful bidders to support the WOAN through the procurement of a minimum 30% national capacity, along with several various underserviced area coverage obligations within five years.

The closing date for the publication of ITA for IMT Spectrum is December 28, 2020, and March 30, 2021 for the WOAN ITA.