Mobile operators will stop getting access to free spectrum in November

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) says that the temporary free spectrum that was released in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic will be closed at the end of November.

Presenting to parliament on Friday (15 May), Icasa said that it plans to place the temporary spectrum on auction in December 2020.

Icasa’s acting chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng told the committee that Icasa believes that it will get ‘attractive offers’ from bidding companies because they will have ‘experienced open spectrum’ and will want to regain access.

He added that Icasa will complete the distribution of spectrum to the wholesale open-access network (WOAN) in 2021.

In April, Icasa released emergency spectrum to allow the country’s mobile operators to meet the spike in broadband services demand due to South Africa’s coronavirus lockdown.

“We intend to take the necessary care in this regard and to ensure that there are no irreversible anti-competitive effects for the market,” Modimoeng said at the time.

“In addition, we really urge licensees to work with us for the benefit of all South Africans in a collaborative effort so that the emergency release of the spectrum can make a meaningful contribution to curb the spread and flatten the curve of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Read: Mobile operators get ’emergency spectrum’ to help with internet demand during South Africa’s lockdown

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