ICASA offers more spectrum due to data traffic surge

07 September 2022

The South African telecom regulator is set to license more low- and mid-frequency spectrum to providers of broadband services amid a surge in data traffic.

A notice published by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) in the Government Gazette said it was initiating the second phase of the licensing process as continued growth necessitated the demand for more spectrum.

ICASA said it expects to conclude this process by March 2023. It also says it has decided on a phased approach to the licensing of the low- and mid-frequency bands to enhance competition and increase broadband coverage.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, data usage has rocketed in the rainbow nation as the majority of services moved online.

Interventions by government on the issue include reducing data costs for and expanding broadband access to low-income households.

“The purpose of this notice is to solicit views from interested stakeholders regarding the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) radio frequency bands the authority intends to license during the second phase of the IMT licensing process,” said in the Government Gazette.

The planned second phase of spectrum comes six months after ICASA concluded the initial process in March this year.

Cell C, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, MTN, Rain, Telkom and Vodacom responded to the invitation to apply and qualified to participate in the licensing process.

The main auction stage comprised 58 rounds of bidding between the six bidders.