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Icasa awards provisional spectrum – here’s who gets what

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Communications regulator Icasa has licensed “provisional” spectrum to telecommunications operators, ahead of an end-of-the-month deadline to do so, in the process resolving the threat of legal action.

The regulator said on Friday that it has awarded the provisional spectrum in terms of the Covid-19 state of disaster regulations to the six operators that requested access.

The licences are valid for seven months from 1 December, and will expire on 30 June 2022, or three months after the end of the national sate of disaster, whichever comes first. It’s understood the intention is for the licences to be in force until Icasa is able to conclude a spectrum auction that will license access to the bands permanently.

Read: Icasa to license ‘provisional spectrum’ ahead of 2022 auction

“By the closing date on 17 November, the authority had received six applications — from Rain Networks, Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom, Liquid Intelligence Technologies and MTN,” Icasa said.

Here’s how the spectrum has been awarded:

700MHz band

Icasa received four applications for this band – from MTN, Telkom, Vodacom and Rain. These assignments have been made:

  1. MTN: 10MHz
  2. Telkom: 20MHz
  3. Vodacom: 10MHz
  4. Rain: 20MHz

800MHz band

Here Icasa received five applications – from MTN, Telkom, Vodacom, Rain and Cell C. This is what has been awarded

  1. MTN: 10MHz
  2. Telkom: 20MHz
  3. Vodacom: 10MHz
  4. Cell C: 20MHz

Since both the 700MHz and 800MHz bands are still used by television broadcasters, Icasa said it “urges licensees to share and coordinate usage in these frequency bands through a geographic separation of (mobile) systems and broadcasting services in affected areas”.

2.3GHz band

In this band, Icasa received only one application, from Telkom. “To this end, Telkom was duly awarded 40MHz of provisional spectrum in this band.”

2.6GHz band

Icasa received five applications in the 2.6GHz band, from Telkom, MTN, Vodacom, Rain and Cell C. These assignments have been made:

  1. Telkom: 10MHz
  2. MTN: 40MHz
  3. Vodacom: 40MHz
  4. Rain: 60MHz
  5. Cell C: 20MHz

3.5GHz band

Lastly, in the 3.5GHz band, which is well suited for 5G deployments, Icasa received five applications – from Telkom, MTN, Vodacom, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Rain and Cell C. Icasa has assigned the spectrum as follows:

  1. Telkom: 12MHz
  2. MTN: 40MHz
  3. Vodacom: 40MHz;
  4. Liquid Intelligent Technologies: 4MHz
  5. Cell C: 20MHz

Icasa chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng emphasised that the assignments are an interim measure and recommitted the regulator to conducting a spectrum auction by March 2022.

“This provisional licensing phase attempts temporarily to address competition concerns and levy appropriate fees, but a more all-inclusive regime will be yielded through a competitive bidding approach,” Modimoeng said.

“All licensees will be required to pay a spectrum acquisition fee, as well as a spectrum usage fee, in addition to the upfront application fee. Through this provisional spectrum assignment arrangement and its related fees (for acquisition, spectrum usage and application), the authority will in the short term raise about R200-million for the national fiscus.” — © 2021 NewsCentral Media

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