Communications regulator Icasa’s recent decision to extend the allocation of emergency spectrum under the Covid-19 disaster regulations to operators to the end of March 2021 now has an added proviso: The companies will have to pay up.
The operators had been using the spectrum at no charge until now.
The initial date within which the temporary spectrum was supposed to be returned to the authority was 30 November 2020.
We are aware that licensees generated and reported revenue growth during this period
Icasa has “resolved that all licensees who have been assigned temporary spectrum and wish to continue using it for the extended period (until 31 March 2021) will be required to pay the prescribed radio frequency spectrum licence fees”, it said in a statement.
“In releasing the initial temporary spectrum to meet the high demand of services during high levels of the lockdown and the national state of disaster, the authority did not require any payment of fees for use of such spectrum,” said Icasa chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng.
“We are aware that licensees generated and reported revenue growth during this period. We have therefore resolved that, in addition to fulfilment of the obligations imposed with the release of temporary spectrum, the extended use of spectrum must be at a fee as provided for in the amended regulations.”
The regulator said the deadline for applicants interested in taking part in the spectrum auction remains 28 December. It said it will publish a “reasons document” on the invitation to apply (ITA) for spectrum by no later than 4 December.
It will also conduct virtual workshops from 9 to 11 December in respect of the ITA for both the spectrum auction and the licensing of the wholesale open-access network (Woan).
Icasa chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng
“These workshops are intended to provide a platform and opportunity for prospective applicants to unpack the requirements of the Woan ITA and to ensure a successful licensing process.
“We believe that the workshops and the responses will go a long way in providing clarity for all interested stakeholders and ensure that the process is fully understood and give effect to procedural fairness and administrative justice,” said Modimoeng. — © 2020 NewsCentral Media