President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that government is working to speed up the release of valuable spectrum in the country.
Speaking at the International Telecommunication Union Telecom World conference on Monday (10 September), Ramaphosa said that it is critical that governments work more closely with industry to maximise the value of digital innovations.
“There are currently 20 million South Africans who do not use the internet, for a range of reasons such as unaffordable data prices, lack of internet-enabled devices and lack of access,” he said.
“Yet, about 87% of households in South Africa have access to mobile phones, presenting us with a great opportunity to overcome digital exclusion and to drive inclusive growth and innovation.
“Government has recently decided to accelerate the licensing of the radio frequency spectrum in the 2.6Ghz, 700Mhz and 800Mhz bands to hasten the growth of mobile communications.”
He added that Government had finalised consultations with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to ensure allocation of spectrum reduces barriers to entry, promotes competition and reduces costs to consumers.
“Following a Cabinet decision last month, our regulator ICASA is now preparing to licence available high demand spectrum,” he said.
“In addition, we have begun work in preparation for 5G spectrum licensing as part of our efforts to build a smarter digital economy.”
Speaking at the launch of Africa’s first commercial 5G service on Thursday (6 September), Vodacom CTO Andries Delport said that spectrum availability was still the biggest hurdle to the roll-out of 5G in the country.
“We have already started upgrades to our 4G network in preparation of 5G roll-out,” Delport said to BusinessTech.
“It can literally take us weeks to deploy the first base-stations. The only other additional logistics would be installing new antennas on our towers for the introduction of other frequencies.”