South African telecom regulator to charge operators for emergency spectrum

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South Africa’s telecoms regulator ICASA said on Friday all licensees wishing to use until March 31 temporary spectrum granted during lockdown will be required to pay the prescribed license fees. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) allocated the additional emergency spectrum to several mobile operators and other licensees in April to meet a spike in internet demand during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. At that time, the regulator did not require any fee charges for use of such spectrum.

“We are aware that licensees generated and reported revenue growth during this period,” ICASA Chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng said. “We have therefore resolved that, in addition to fulfilment of the obligations imposed with the release of temporary spectrum, the extended use of spectrum must be at a fee as provided for in the amended regulations.”

According to the amendment of the ICT COVID-19 National State of Disaster Regulations, licensees will pay pro-rated license fees in terms of the radio frequency spectrum licence fees regulations.

The regulator had extended the date within which the spectrum was supposed to be returned to it from Nov. 30 to no later than March 31, 2021 due to the delays in auctioning high-demand spectrum for 5G.