South Africa: Spectrum auction could be Gigaba’s silver bullet

27 October 2017

Telecoms

Finance minister Malusi Gigaba could find a silver bullet for his budget woes if he is brave enough to announce the auction of high-demand spectrum in Wednesday’s medium-term budget policy statement.

In one sentence, he could announce that desperately needed high-demand spectrum would be auctioned as 2018 dawns and that the expected R25bn-40bn in proceeds would be used to roll out mobile broadband connectivity nationwide, switch off the analogue broadcasting signal and free up the Internet-based economy to accelerate South Africa’s international economic competitiveness, create jobs and enable e-government services.

At the same time, he should announce that minister of telecommunications & postal services Siyabonga Cwele has withdrawn his legal challenge in the high court in Pretoria against communications regulator Icasa’s planned spectrum auction.

The quick and easy answer to using ICTs to pull us back from the fiscal cliff is within Gigaba’s grasp. He must be bold enough to take it.

He would also need to persuade Cwele to give legal heft to the verbal “agreement” negotiated with the six mobile network operators earlier this year whereby they would — in the main — not need to return spectrum used by them until the end of their current licence period. The should be assigned high-demand spectrum in a fair and transparent manner in line with the National Development Plan and operate in a competitive infrastructure and services environment in parallel to a revised notion of the wireless open-access network (Woan). Read the full article on TechCentral here.