South Africa’s telecoms regulatory authority, the ICASA, has announced that it will release emergency spectrum to help the country’s mobile network operators cope with the massive spike in demand, as millions of people across the country opt to work from home, amid the current Covid 19 pandemic.
“The emergency release of this spectrum does not ... negate the processes that are currently underway for permanent assignment of spectrum through an auction, the process which the Authority had committed to finalise by the end of 2020,” the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) told journalists from Reuters.
On the 27th March 2020, South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, placed the country into a three week state of lockdown in an attempt to control the spread of the disease across South Africa. The emergency spectrum will be available at least until that lockdown is lifted and citizens are able to return to their places of work.
Mobile network operators have until the 9th of April to submit their applications for access to the additional spectrum, which will help to ease congestion across their networks.
South Africa still intends to hold a full spectrum auction for long term spectrum licences by the end of the year.