South African telecoms regulator delays spectrum release until 2021

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 3- South Africa’s telecoms regulator said on Thursday it now plans to auction high-demand spectrum licences by no later than the end of March 2021, pushing back the process by three-months, due to a delay in issuing invites to apply. Allocation of high-demand spectrum is seen as key to expanding broadband services, especially 5 G, in Africa’s…

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 3 (Reuters) – South Africa’s telecoms

regulator said on Thursday it now plans to auction high-demand

spectrum licences by no later than the end of March 2021,

pushing back the process by three-months, due to a delay in

issuing invites to apply.

Allocation of high-demand spectrum is seen as key toexpanding broadband services, especially 5G, in Africa’s mostindustrialised economy, where the high cost oftelecommunications is a barrier to doing business.

Data costs have come down after mobile operators were forcedto cut data prices, but they still argue that costs could dropsignificantly once regulators auction the much needed spectrum.

The invitations for both the wholesale open-access network,or WOAN and commercial high-demand spectrum for mobile operatorssuch as Vodacom, MTN and Telkom willbe published no later than Sept. 30, the IndependentCommunications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) said in astatement.

The delay in issuing the invites was caused by, amongothers, prioritising the release of COVID-19 emergency spectrum,not having a sufficient number of members of its council as wellas additional considerations related to the viability of theWOAN, which will force operators to share spectrum, the ICASAadded.(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla;Editing by Alison Williams)

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