South Africa’s communication minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, has released the ministry’s long-awaited spectrum policy direction White Paper. She has passed the direction to the country’s media and communications regulator ICASA and to give preferential bandwidth access to a new wholesale open access network (‘WOAN’) in order to increase competition in the nation’s cellular market.
“The minister recognises that there are over 400 players that hold electronic communications network service licences, but which cannot access spectrum due to its scarcity,” the policy direction reads. “This has an adverse effect on competition, contributes to the high cost to communicate and serves as a barrier to entry for new entrants and SMMEs.”
Ndabeni-Abrahams says the assignment of bandwidth suitable for next-gen 5G usage will be held back in abeyance until after the International Telecommunication Union’s Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) taking place at the end of this year.
Meanwhile, ICASA has six months to report back to the Ministry.