S.Africa wants review of decision on wireless broadband licenses


South Africa wants a decision by its telecoms regulator to invite bids for high-speed wireless broadband licenses reviewed as it was made without consulting the government, the Department of Telecommunications said on Monday.

Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) opened a tender to bid for the high-speed broadband, known as spectrum, on July 15 as it seeks to increase access to the Internet and bring down costs for consumers.

The department said the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, intended taking legal action to review the actions of ICASA.


“The Minister is concerned that ICASA’s invitation to apply for the auctioning of the spectrum was issued without consultation and prior notification to Government as the policy maker,” the department said in a statement.

“A further concern is the haste with which ICASA is proceeding to dispose of the spectrum given that this spectrum will not be immediately available.”

Bids for licenses were due by Oct. 3 and the auction results were to be announced in January next year, ICASA said.

South Africa has pledged to roll out free Wifi services across the country at a cost of around 67 billion rand ($4.67 billion), but access for operators to more bandwidth has been delayed for years.

There are five main firms in South Africa’s wireless broadband market, including MTN, Vodacom and partially state-owned operator Telkom.