Government delays decision on spectrum, again

Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, will hold off on issuing the policy direction on unassigned high demand spectrum until after the establishment of the sixth administration.

Ndabeni-Abrahams had originally promised to issue a directive on the spectrum by the end of April 2019.

The issuing of new spectrum is considered necessary to lessen resource constraints currently being experienced by the country’s current mobile operators and level the playing field and enable new entrants into the market.

It is also expected to help drive down the price of data and reduce the cost to communicate and drive universal services and access.

Fight with Icasa

The issuing of the spectrum has been further complicated by a war of words between the Department of Communications and regular Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Keabetswe Modimoeng, the acting chairperson of Icasa, stated that the dispute between the minister and Icasa is over wording in the regulator’s annual performance plan.

Specifically, the Ministry wants Icasa ‘to hold back a bit’ on 5G, he said.

“To be honest, we’re not entirely sure what the exact complaint is, as we have not had formal engagements with the minister,” Modimoeng said.

On Wednesday (1 May), Ndabeni-Abrahams announced that government has paid Icasa the first part of its annual budget, after the regulator threatened to take legal action against the department for non-payment.

Read: South Africa to start 4G spectrum auction by April 2019

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Government delays decision on spectrum, again