Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

4G/5G

SA regulator plans spectrum auction for March 2022

Article Image
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) says it is planning for South Africa's spectrum auction process to begin on March 1, 2022 – a year later than the original date.

After years of delays, ICASA in October 2020 published an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for high-demand spectrum for both the planned Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN) and individual spectrum for operators. It intended to auction lots of spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands by no later than the end of March 2021.

However, the whole process had to be halted when Telkom filed a High Court challenge to stop the spectrum licensing process. SA's third-biggest operator believed that ICASA's ITA has fundamental flaws that could entrench the dominance of rivals Vodacom and MTN.

MTN also went to the High Court in January, opposing the auction for its own reasons, one of which was that ICASA had precluded large operators like itself from bidding for 3.5GHz spectrum which it needs for 5G.

The court battle was concluded on September 15, 2021, when the North Gauteng High Court granted a consent order which will let ICASA embark on a revised process with a view to finally get the spectrum licensed on a long-term basis.

"We are indeed grateful to everyone who participated in bringing the matter to finality. All things being equal, we envisage to licence the IMT spectrum no later than end of March 2022," said ICASA chairperson Dr. Keabetswe Modimoeng in an emailed statement.

For over a decade, SA operators have also been forced to refarm their existing allocations of 2G and 3G spectrum in order to deploy 4G technology. 5G has only been launched using temporary spectrum which operators have been told to return by the end of November 2021.

Spectrum roadmap

Now ICASA has published its new timeline for the process as well as an Information Memorandum (IM) for consultation on the process. Workshops and public consultations will happen in October and November and November 29 has been set down as the closing date for public comments

ICASA will then issue a new ITA on December 10, 2021 and applications for the ITA will close on January 31, 2022. The announcement of qualified bidders will be made on February 21, 2022 and the auction process will begin on March 1, 2022.

"In framing the truncated timetable and roadmap, the Authority was mindful of the need for the expedited licensing process to be completed with exigency whilst adhering to a comprehensive and transparent consultative process," 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," he added.

WOAN timeline

The planned WOAN also has a new timeline – ICASA said as of October 1, 2021 it would start the process to reconsider the composite ITA for an individual electronic communications network services (I-ECNS) and radio frequency spectrum license for the purpose of operating the WOAN.


Want to know more about 4G and 5G in Africa? Check out our dedicated 4G/5G content channel here on Connecting Africa.


The consultation document will be published on November 19, 2021 and written comments need to be submitted by January 10, 2022.

The amended ITA will be issued on March 15, 2022 and applications to operate the WOAN will close on May 13, 2022.

Related posts:

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

SA's smart city finalists win big for innovation

South Africa's City of Johannesburg's Smart City Office has awarded four innovators R500,000 (US$31,434) for their innovative solutions.

Story

Hot startup of the month: Data science marketplace Zindi

This month's hot startup is social enterprise Zindi, which is a professional network for data science in Africa.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: May 2022

By Omdia Analysts

SpaceX-owned Starlink's plans to launch a satellite broadband service in Africa was a major highlight in May 2022, says Omdia's analysts.

Story

Omdia View: April 2022

By Omdia Analysts

This month's Omdia View highlights indicate a shift to digital transformation and operational consolidation to maximize return on investments.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Flash poll

All polls

Archived webinars

Africa Green ICT: Lighting Up a Sustainable Continent

The ICT industry is the leading industry in the commitment to carbon neutrality, whose focus has shifted from setting ambitious targets to taking initiatives. The push for zero-carbon and for green energy development, it isn't just about CSR – it's also good for sustainable business.

The path to sustainable development requires green energy. Governments are looking at potential policy approaches to make green energy more widely available and affordable. Without sustainable energy, there will be no digital transformation and no chance of making Africa more economically competitive in the post-pandemic era.

Africa Green ICT Webinar 2022 will bring together ICT industry leaders and senior industrial analysts to provide insight, best practices and key learnings on how to achieve zero-carbon targets and practice green development in Africa.

More Webinars

Sponsored video

More videos

AfricaCom perspectives

Story

Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

Story

Accelerating women in STEM: In conversation with GirlCode's Tinyiko Simbine

GirlCode co-founder and CFO Tinyiko Simbine talks about why it's important to help girls and young women excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Story

How Poa Internet is unlocking meaningful connectivity in East Africa

Poa Internet's CEO Andy Halsall shares his views on what it takes to develop last-mile connectivity and get Africans online in a meaningful way.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up