Telecommunications operators will no longer have to hand back temporary spectrum assignments, awarded to them under the Covid-19 state of disaster regulations, until a spectrum auction is held in March 2021.
Communications regulator Icasa made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the companies would be able to keep the spectrum beyond the 30 November 2020 cut-off originally announced when it unveiled details of the planned auction and the spectrum lots that it intends assigning as part of the process.
(Read Icasa chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng’s full statement here. TechCentral will have detailed coverage of this topic throughout Thursday.)
Icasa issued the emergency temporary spectrum to all the major operators in April in an effort to address the demand from South Africans who were suddenly forced to work from home due to the hard lockdown announced by government.
The regulator said that it had originally been expected that the auction of the spectrum would have been concluded by no later than December 2020, but because it has been postponed to March 2021, it made sense to extend the temporary assignments.
“In light of the fact that the auctioning of the high-demand spectrum will now be completed before 31 March 2021, the authority will embark on a process to amend the ICT Covid-19 national state of disaster regulations in order to extend the validity period of the emergency temporary spectrum to no later than 31 March 2021.
“The details and conditions for the extension of the temporarily assigned radio frequency spectrum will be outlined in the ICT Covid-19 national state of disaster amendment regulations, which will be published in due course,” Icasa said.
Here are the details of the spectrum that Icasa made available to operators in April on a temporary basis:
700MHz and 800MHz bands
Due to the fact that analogue and digital television broadcasting services are still operating in these frequency bands, sharing and co-existence will have to be implemented systematically through a geographic separation of mobile and broadcasting services in affected areas, Icasa said.
Telkom has been temporarily assigned 40MHz in these bands, while MTN and Vodacom have also received 40MHz each.
Telkom has been temporarily assigned 20MHz in addition to the 60MHz it already has in this band. Vodacom has received 20MHz, too.
The total amount of available spectrum in this band is 170MHz. The following applicants have been assigned spectrum: Telkom, 40MHz; Vodacom, 50MHz; MTN, 50MHz; Rain, 30MHz (in addition to the 20MHz it already has in this band).
The total amount of available spectrum in this band is 116MHz. Telkom has been assigned 12MHz out of the 32MHz applied for. “It is important to note that Telkom is currently assigned 28MHz in the 3.5GHz band and was assigned 12MHz to afford it adequate capacity spectrum to meet the demand occasioned by the pandemic during this period,” Icasa said.
Vodacom has been temporarily assigned 50MHz as applied for, while MTN has been assigned 50MHz of the 70MHz applied for. Liquid Telecom has been assigned 4MHz; which adds to the 56MHz it already has in this band. — © 2020 NewsCentral Media