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Mavuso shocked at ICASA withdrawing additional spectrum

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BLSA’s Mavuso has noted with shock ICASA’s decision to terminate additional spectrum licenses in November, as the additional spectrum had helped ease the economic effects of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, 22 September 2021, Business Leadership South Africa’s (BLSA) CEO, Busi Mavuso expressed shock at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (ICASA) decision to withdraw the additional spectrum it had allocated under the disaster regulations to help deal with lockdowns. Mavuso stressed that one of the key structural reforms she had long argued that South Africa desperately needs was far greater access to spectrum, as economic growth is being chocked by a lack of data bandwidth at reasonable prices.

She further noted that ICASA had granted additional spectrum to main operators for them to cope with the increased data demand lockdowns had created. Mavuso also unpacked how this additional spectrum had helped the economy, allowing for people to work from home and retain jobs during the pandemic, however, she expressed shock that ICASA announced it would be terminating licenses in November.

See the post below.

What were operators tasked with in return for additional spectrum?

Operators had to agree to conditions including sending messages on the management and prevention of COVID-19, announcements by the Ministry of Health and Presidency, as well as the provision of virtual classroom platforms for supporting virtual teaching all for free.

What other positive impact did additional spectrum offer?

Mavuso noted that thousands of school learners and tertiary students were able to continue their education, clinics and other healthcare facilities were able to remain connected. Additionally, a great deal of people were also able to book vaccines through the health department’s portal.

What impact will this withdrawal of spectrum have, according to Mavuso?

Without this spectrum, Mavuso believes that network operators will be forced into a kind of digital load-shedding, and that it will have serious implications on the most vulnerable, including the education of learners and work-from-home operations, amongst others.

Mahlohonolo Lakaje
[email protected]


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