On 8 September 2022, the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies published a notice inviting the public to provide written submissions on the proposed Next Generation Radio Frequency Spectrum Policy for Economic Development.
The draft Spectrum Policy was introduced to manage the shortage of available spectrum in the country, an increase in data costs occasioned by reliance on capital-intensive electronic communications networks, and the exclusion of rural communities and Small, Medium, and Micro-enterprises (SMMEs) in the sector.
The draft Spectrum Policy proposes that:
- The Regulator put in place measures to prevent the hoarding of spectrum and institute a cut-off period of 24 months after which unused spectrum is forfeited;
- Provision be made for the sharing and trading of spectrum among licensees, with prior approval from the Regulator;
- Spectrum licenses pay spectrum fees at a rate to be determined by the Minister, with licenses being valid for 20 years;
- The Minister undertake regulatory reform to facilitate the provision of a monthly allocation of free basic data to indigent households and other qualifying beneficiaries;
- The Regulator develop a licensing framework for community networks and must release spectrum for community use to community networks for the purposes of free basic data provision.
In her media briefing on 8 September, Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni spoke to the fact that spectrum is a finite resource that enables innovation and economic development.
It is hoped that the proposed policy will make more spectrum available to reduce data costs and improve access to information in South Africa.
The deadline for submissions is Friday, 7 October 2022.
Comments can be emailed to Mr Ngobeni at [email protected].
The Call for Comments and Draft Spectrum Policy is available here.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].