Regulator grants Telkom, MTN and Vodacom additional spectrum amid Covid-19

Mobile operators Telkom, MTN and Vodacom, as well as some other telecom service providers, have been temporarily granted additional spectrum as part of the Covid-19 crisis management efforts by government.

A lack of high demand spectrum has been a long-running complaint by SA telecoms groups, who say that it is needed to reduce data prices and increase speed. 

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa on Friday morning said in statement it had reviewed several applications for additional spectrum and 17 were successful.

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams previously said the regulator would consider releasing temporary spectrum to communications service providers to ensure connectivity throughout the national state of disaster period.  

"The authority exercised extreme care in the assignment of this temporary spectrum to existing licensees in order to achieve the objectives of the Covid-19 regulations which are aimed at alleviating network challenges, easing congestion and ensuring good quality of service for consumers,"  the statement from Icasa read.

"I believe the spectrum will be used efficiently as well as optimally for the benefit of all South Africans. This will indeed bridge the communications divide during this difficult period of our lifetime," said Icasa's acting chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng.

Icasa considered applications for temporary radio frequency spectrum assignments in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2300MHz, 2600MHz and 3500MHz bands including television white spaces, it said.

Successful applicants met the criteria of providing network performance reports before the Covid-19 outbreak, and also provided a modelled network performance for the additional spectrum required.

Other service providers which will benefit from the additional spectrum include RAIN Networks and Liquid Telecoms.