Communications minister holds out hope for solution on spectrum allocation

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 Minister of Small Business Development  Khumbudzo Ntshavheni
Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni
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The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's recent decision to halt the allocation of spectrum will not hamper ongoing talks between government and communications companies in a bid to find an amicable solution.

This is according to the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, which said on Wednesday that the move by the regulator "does not detract from the engagements the minister continues to hold with the telecommunications mobile operators and other relevant parties to find an amicable solution towards an urgent release of spectrum".

Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, added that she was "encouraged by the attitude of the various parties in the process".

The department noted that the release of spectrum was one of  the "key reforms necessary to ignite economic growth and recovery"  especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Icasa recently failed to reach an out-of-court settlement with telecommunication companies that had challenged the spectrum auction process. The auction of spectrum has been impeded by numerous delays over the past decade. 

In September last year, Icasa issued an invitation to apply for spectrum, which some companies challenged.

On Tuesday, the regulator said it had consented to an order setting aside its decision to publish invitations to apply, in a bid to avoid drawn-out litigation. 

Telecommunications companies say the release of spectrum will enable the roll-out of faster internet through improved communication technologies. But the latest development is likely to further delay the much-anticipated auction.

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