The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has issued the final Invitation To Apply (ITA) for the licensing of the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) spectrum, also known as the high-demand spectrum.
The deadline for spectrum licensing applications is set for January 31, 2022, at 16:00.
The qualifying bidders will be announced on February 21 2022, while the auction will take place on March 8, 2022. In addition, the new ITA has considered issues raised by stakeholders in their challenges to prior licensing processes.
The above mentioned resulted in the delay of the spectrum auction initially set to take place in March this year. Several stakeholders, including Telkom and MTN, took ICASA to court over the spectrum auction.
Telkom expressed concern that some of the spectra were still occupied by TV broadcasters because of South Africa’s delayed digital migration process. On the other hand, MTN was critical of ICASA’s auction process.
The Communication Authority eventually agreed to a Pretoria High Court ruling that tossed aside the existing ITA and compelled ICASA to start the process again. ICASA spent three months following the order, interacting with stakeholders by publishing two information memorandums (IMs).
ICASA chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng expressed gratitude for the representations received and stated that the Authority “fully considered stakeholders’ views in their entirety.”
ICASA said it would collaborate with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies to provide coverage maps for the 700MHz and 800MHz spectrum bands, based on the success of the analogue switch-off.
“The Authority will adopt proportional payment formulae for IMT700, and IMT800 bands should the digital migration process not be completed by the time the auction is concluded,” said ICASA.
ICASA confirmed its resolve to segregate the high-demand spectrum auction from the Wireless Open Access Network licensing (WOAN).
“We urge all industry stakeholders to support this licensing process and auction since it is the most open and transparent manner to permanently award spectrum,” Modimoeng concluded.