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HomeTech NewsIcasa gets tough on unused spectrum with new regulations

Icasa gets tough on unused spectrum with new regulations

South Africa’s communications minister has announced a new “use-it-or-lose-it” policy to prevent companies like mobile networks and broadcasters from hoarding valuable radio spectrum.

The policy, published by Minister Mondli Gungubele, seeks to ensure that spectrum is used efficiently and not wasted.

The new policy outlines how the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) will regulate and assign high-demand spectrum. Spectrum is essential for mobile networks, TV and radio broadcasters, vehicle tracking companies, and more to communicate between devices and their networks.

Icasa’s job is to prevent companies from keeping unused spectrum that could be used for other purposes. The policy supports a “liberalisation of spectrum use,” allowing companies to decide what technology they use to provide services. Icasa will measure spectrum usage to ensure it’s used as efficiently as possible.

If spectrum goes unused for 24 months, the company will lose it under the new policy. For over a decade, Icasa has used financial incentives to discourage spectrum hoarding. Since April 2012, the “Administrative Incentive Pricing scheme” has made it costly for companies to hold onto more capacity than they need.

Companies like Telkom and state-owned signal distributor Sentech have felt the impact. In 2013, Telkom’s spectrum fees jumped dramatically due to the new pricing. That same year, Sentech returned its 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz spectrum to Icasa, partly because of the tenfold increase in costs.





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