South Africa’s telecom regulator, Independent Community Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has extended the use of temporary radio frequency spectrum issued to licensees for the next three months owing to the delay in auction of new spectrums.
With this offered extension, mobile operators will continue to provide improved connectivity solutions to customers in order to meet the rapidly rising demand for data as most people continue to work from home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to above, consumers can also avail free access to certain important education and health websites, according to the emergency spectrum conditions.
While announcing the amendments to the ICT coronavirus National Disaster rules, ICASA mentioned that the extension will be from June 1, 2021, to August 31, 2021.
Previously, licensees were expected to return the temporary spectrum to the regulators by March 31, 2021, by which time ICASA was supposed to auction the permanent spectrum. However, the high court did not approve the plea as it seemed irrational and unlawful.
According to Keabetswe Modimoeng, Chairperson of ICASA, the extension will offer an opportunity to shareholders to find a resolution to the spectrum litigation halt. Keabetswe also urged the present litigants, MTN and Telkom, to take part in the prevailing settlement negotiations to resolve the impasse as the regulators will not be able to sustain a pandemic-specific arrangement to the point where it leads to adopting an unethical licensing solution.
The independent regulatory body operating under the South African Government mentioned that the Licensees of temporary spectrum will extend free connectivity access to the virtual classroom platforms for 17 months from deployment.
Seemingly, the approved tool used in the temporary spectrum will be decommissioned in the next three months post the expiry of its licenses, while the duration of the spectrum sharing agreements will not cross the duration of these licenses.