In South Africa, communications regulator Icasa has disclosed that it will hold another auction for radio frequencies suitable for mobile broadband – including 4G/LTE and 5G – early in 2024.

The regulator indicated that the three bands, IMT450 (450-470MHz), IMT850 (825-830MHz and 870-875MHz) and IMT1500 (1.427-1.518GHz), are up for auction.

They have been added to seven other bands identified for mobile telecommunications and published by Icasa in December. Those include:

IMT700: 703-733MHz and 758-788MHz
IMT750: 733-758MHz
IMT800: 791-821MHz and 832-862MHz
IMT900: 880-915MHz and 925-960MHz
IMT2300: 2.3-2.4GHz
IMT3300: 3.3-3.4GHz
IMT3500: 3.4-3.6GHz

BMA understands that allocating a high-demand spectrum through auctions is vital to the government’s economic reforms as the state attempts to boost the flailing economy.

In a statement, Icasa councillor Charley Lewis said, “The finalisation of the current set of 10 radio frequency spectrum assignment plans marks a key milestone in making sufficient spectrum available to licensees, on a technology-neutral basis, to enable the roll-out and uptake of 4G and 5G services across South Africa. It also frees up important additional spectrum for the auction planned for early 2024.”

“A forward-looking approach to spectrum is vital to enable the development of new services to meet the evolving market demands,” Lewis said.

Together with last year’s auction, the new assignment plans will result in a 215% increase in the so-called high-demand spectrum available for licensing through a competitive process to telecommunications operators.

Commenting on the announcement, Dominic Cull, a lawyer specialising in electronic communications regulation, said, “In terms of preparing for further auctions and regulating spectrum integration, they’ve done excellent work. The engineering department has excelled in terms of plans and testing in place so that when we move to another auction, we won’t wait another 15 years. So the proper groundwork has been done.”

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