ICASA & Telkom spectrum spat

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South Africa’s media regulator ICASA is involved in a dispute with the nation’s main telco Telkom.

The claim by Telkom – which operates both landline and cellular services – is that the regulator has “expropriated” a portion of its wireless spectrum assets.

ICASA’s intention was to use the 2.3 GHz spectrum to help provide extra capacity during the Covid-19 crisis.

Siyabonga Mahlangu, responsible for regulation at Telkom, said bluntly: “The emergency regulation does not give ICASA the right to expropriate currently assigned spectrum.”

ICASA has allocated portions of the bandwidth back to Telkom but also to its competitors: MTN, Vodacom, Rain and Liquid Telecom.

According to South African media news site, Telkom is quoted as saying 27MHz of the 40MHz allocated at 2.3GHz under the temporary spectrum rules was already assigned to it and was therefore not available for allocation to other parties.

ICASA, in its statement, says that in assigning the temporary spectrum for the national disaster period, it may deviate from the radio frequency assignment plans. “The temporary assignments in the IMT2300 (2.3GHz) band were made within this context,” it said. “[ICASA] is of the view that the argument raised (by Telkom) is premature and misdirected in the context of the temporary assignment of spectrum for purposes of the Covid-19 regulations,” it said.


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