Press release: ISPA welcomes movement on radio spectrum allocations

Published on: 2010-02-18

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The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) has welcomed an undertaking by ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of SA) to finalise the process for the assignment of radio frequency spectrum to electronic communications network service (ECNS) licensees by the end of May this year.

The organisation has long lobbied ICASA to speed up the process of assigning spectrum suitable for the provision of broadband wireless access services so that its members can start building more wireless network infrastructure to roll out services in competition with the incumbent operators.

“The sooner ICASA finalises a framework for the assignment of licensed spectrum in the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz radio frequency spectrum bands, the sooner our members can introduce more competition to the market and help to bring down prices to the benefit of consumers and businesses,” said ISPA’s Ant Brooks.

“Slow progress in assigning spectrum since ICASA issued draft regulations for the licensing of this scarce resource in July 2009, has held back service providers who are keen to compete at the infrastructure layer of the market.”

Access to spectrum now represents the single biggest obstacle to competitive participation in the telecoms marketplace, said Brooks. Without access to well-managed and interference-free spectrum, the 300 or so new entrant ECNS licensees are forced to lease capacity from existing operators at inflated prices rather than build their own networks.

Brooks also reiterated ISPA’s belief that spectrum should be regulated with a ‘use it or lose it’ philosophy to prevent this scarce resource from being wasted. Several government-owned telecom companies are sitting on dormant radio spectrum that they may never use in an effort to prevent other players from competing against them or due to a lack of funding or ability to build networks.

“Our members – many of whom have obtained test licences to trial equipment and services in the 2.6 and/or 3.5GHz bands – stand ready to roll out networks that will enable them to offer innovative, affordable and high-quality broadband services to their customers,” concluded Brooks.

“What’s more, ICASA has written to our members demanding that they prove they have commenced with the provision of services under the terms of their electronic communications network services (ECNS) and electronic services (ECS). We have requested that ICASA rather attend to discharging its legislated role in enabling such service provision by, amongst other things, making licensed frequency available

Further Information

For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.