Tag: Icasa

Spectrum auction set to happen next month

By Siphelele Dludla for IOL

South Africa’s spectrum auction will finally happen within the next month after more than a decade, as the government begins to embark on a widespread campaign to cut the red tape and improve the ease of doing business.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a sweeping review of economic policy and regulatory framework as part of the government’s efforts to implement structural reforms.

He said that the Independent Communications Authority of SA(Icasa) will be spearheading the rolling out of the spectrum to boost investment and create jobs.

Spectrum has been one of the major hurdles for investment in South Africa.

Delays in rolling out new spectrum auctions have been caused by fighting between Icasa and the Department of Communications.

“The auctioning of high-demand spectrum is expected in three weeks by Icasa. The auction is expected to reduce data costs,” Ramaphosa said.

“Icasa will facilitate the rapid development of broadband infrastructure. This will reduce the cost of digital communication.

“There are too many regulations in this country that are unduly complicated, costly and difficult to comply with. This prevents companies from growing and creating jobs.”

Ramaphosa said these reforms should ensure there was an agreement that fundamental reforms were needed to revive economic growth, address the immediate unemployment crisis and to create conditions for long-lasting development.

He said he would be accelerating far-reaching structural reforms to reduce the cost of doing business, increase competitiveness and heighten economic growth.

“While structural reforms are necessary for us to revive economic growth, they are not enough on their own. This year, we are undertaking far-reaching measures to unleash the potential of small businesses, micro businesses and informal businesses,”he said.

Ramaphosa said the government would be dealing with the energy crisis by acquiring additional generation capacity, and fix the functioning of the ports.

To regulate all of these reforms, Cabinet approved amendments to the Electricity Regulation Act for public comment.



Icasa backtracks, offers temporary spectrum again

By Sibongile Khumalo for News24

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Icasa issued temporary spectrum to providers to cope with the surge in work-from-home data demands during lockdown.

MTN, for example, reported a 165% increase in data traffic since the start of the pandemic.

Icasa then announced the temporary spectrum would be withdrawn at the end of November.

Vodacom, MTN and Telkom objected, and approached the court to seek an urgent interdict to prevent that from happening.

The case was due to be heard next week.

But on Wednesday, Icasa announced providers could now submit applications for temporary spectrum for a seven-month period ending 30 June 2022, or three months after the termination of the national state of disaster, whichever came first.

Icasa chairperson Keanetswe Modimeng said the invitation showed the authority was “not a spectrum-hoarding regulator”, adding the arrangement was an improved pro-competitive interim measure.

“This provisional arrangement is tailored to deal with any network issues which may affect the provision of services to consumers in the intervening period,” added Modimoeng.

Icasa said companies would have to submit their applications by no later than 17 November 2021.

“The authority believes that it is in the best interest of the public to have a provisional spectrum licensing arrangement in place over the next seven months. This will enable all other inherent licensing processes to conclude while mitigating any possible service disruptions.”

The auction of permanent high-demand spectrum was halted after Telkom and e.tv obtained an interdict against the process, citing flaws in Icasa’s process.

Icasa said it was still confident it could hold the auction in March 2022.


Icasa to take back Covid-19 emergency spectrum

Source: Tech Financials

South Africa’s operators to give back temporary radio frequency spectrum assignments. ICASA, the country’s communications watchdog, said today that it has resolved that the temporary radio frequency spectrum assigned to licensees will now have to be returned by no later 30 November 2021.

According to MyBroadband, South Africa faces a form of “digital load-shedding” if the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) follows through on its plan to take back temporary radio frequency spectrum on 30 November.

This was the stark warning from MTN SA’s executive for corporate affairs, Jacqui O’Sullivan.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the amount of data traffic that MTN has needed to carry for its customers has more than doubled,” O’Sullivan said.

The temporary radio frequency spectrum was first assigned by means of an expedited ITA during April 2020 on the initial declaration of the National State of Disaster, which in turn was occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ICASA has since twice extended the duration of the temporary radio frequency spectrum assignment, with the last expiry date being 31 August 2021.

ICASA has inter alia taken account of the current environment in relation to the number of infections, the gradual reopening of the economy and the steady progress in the vaccination programme.

More importantly, the Authority is mindful of the need to focus its efforts on the permanent licensing of spectrum.

However, it is important that the industry be allowed adequate time to plan and adjust its operations.

‘‘The Authority’s interventions with regards to the release of the temporary radio frequency spectrum have indeed contributed immensely to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensuring that South Africans were, and continue to be, able to communicate during these unprecedented times. However, the Authority cannot allow the temporary spectrum assignment to assume a state of permanence,” chairperson of ICASA, Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng, said.

Dr Modimoeng further says that, having allowed operators to use the temporarily assigned spectrum for a period of seventeen months, it is reasonable that they be allowed a further three months until 30 November 2021 as a sufficient winding down period.

“In order to allow the licensees to wind down their operations on the temporary spectrum, and to notify consumers about the impact thereof (if any) on their service offerings, the Authority has resolved to amend the COVID-19 National Disaster Regulations to provide for continued use of the temporary radio frequency spectrum licences for the period ending 30 November 2021.”


Bankrupt Post Office wants to stop couriers

By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband

Items like smartphones, small electronics, bank cards, and medication may soon only be delivered through the Post Office.

This is if it wins its court face-off with PostNet and the South African Express Parcel Association (SAEPA) over the delivery of packages weighing 1kg and less.

ICASA’s Complaints and Compliance Commission (CCC) in late 2019 ruled that PostNet had contravened the Postal Services Act by transporting and delivering such packages.

According to the regulations, only a licensed postal services operator may render services defined as “reserved postal services.”

As the only operator of this kind in South Africa, the Post Office has the exclusive right to provide delivery services for all letters, postcards, printed matter, small parcels, and other postal articles up to and including 1kg.

PostNet was initially ordered to stop delivering all packages weighing 1kg and less by 17 March 2020.

However, it secured an interdict which has allowed it to continue to deliver these packages until the full challenge is heard in the Gauteng High Court.

It has been joined by SAEPA, who represents courier companies like FedEx, DHL, UPS, CourierIT, RAM, and Globeflight.

The organisation has told MyBroadband that the impact could be disastrous if the court ruled in the Post Office’s favour.

Shopping delivery storage

Individual South African customers and online shopping companies rely on private couriers to deliver many products to their homes on time and with efficiency.

The SA Post Office’s services, by contrast, have been in a decline over the last few years, with packages often reported as lost or stolen.

In addition, the majority of its offering only delivers to branches and not directly to the customer’s home.

SAEPA CEO Garry Marshall said that many of the products currently carried by private couriers fell into the sub-1kg category which the Post Office is laying claim to.

“It just covers such a broad range of commodities across the board,” Marshall said.

“The most dramatic that people can relate to are medications, cell phones, and electronic equipment.”

He provided the example of someone working from home who would need to order a small router.

If the Post Office wins the case, a customer would need to have it shipped through them.

If they opt not to use the Speed Services door-to-door option, they would have to pick it up at the Post Office.

Takealot delivery

More worryingly is that many people won’t be able to use other couriers to get their prescribed medication delivered.

“The courier industry delivers hundreds of thousands of chronic medication shipments directly to people’s homes per month,” Marshall said.

“If those are under 1kg – as many of them are – then of course that would be impacted by it.”

When asked about the specific items which would be reserved to its services, the Post Office simply said that “all items below 1kg” formed part of its mandate.

“Exceptions are the items listed on SAPO’s prohibited guide, for example dangerous goods such as gunpowder,” it added.

Sub-1kg products which are often transported and delivered by courier services include:

  • Bank cards
  • Important financial and legal documents
  • Vehicle licences
  • Electronics like smartphones, wearables, routers, and dongles
  • Computer components
  • SIM cards
  • Clothing
  • Medicine
  • Fast food
  • Car parts
  • rain new logo SIM

Many MyBroadband readers have suggested that courier companies could bypass the regulations by simply adding more weight to small packages to push them over the 1kg mark.

Marshall said, however, that they could not realistically consider this.

“You can’t do that as a rule,” he stated.

“We have to be compliant with the law and anything that artificially inflates things to circumvent the law makes it very difficult for us to perform.”

“New legislation will simply come in that will say that you can’t artificially inflate the weight of something,” Marshall said.


Smartphone penetration in SA surpasses 90%

According to the 2020 State of the ICT Sector report, the influx of mid- to low-cost smartphone brands in South Africa has resulted in smartphone penetration jumping to 91,2% in 2019.

  • This figure represents a 9.5% increase from 2018 to 2019
  • Just four years ago, that figure was 43.5%
  • ICASA recorded 53.4-million smartphone subscriptions as at 30 September 2019, up by more than 6-million since 2018
  • Total mobile cellular phone voice subscriptions increased by 5.7% from 91-million in 2018 to 96 million in 2019
  • 82-million (85%) are on prepaid subscriptions, while 14-million (15%) are on contract
  • Total prepaid mobile phone subscriptions in urban areas was at 77.5-million in 2019, with postpaid subscriptions at 13.7-million
  • In rural areas, prepaid mobile phone subscriptions were at 4.7-million to just over 885 000 postpaid
  • Mobile cellular data subscriptions increased by 18.8% from 65-million in 2018 to 78 million in 2019
  • Fixed-line voice subscriptions decreased by 38% from 4.4-million in 2018 to 2.7-million in 2019
  • Fibre-to-the-home/building Internet subscriptions increased by 28.8% for the same period
  • Wireless broadband subscriptions increase by 25% from 185 327 in 2018 to 231 687 in 2019
  • The national population coverage for 3G increased from 99.5% in 2018 to 99.7% in 2019
  • 4G/LTE coverage increased from 85.7% in 2018 to 92.8% in 2019

SA may free up spectrum during lockdown

South Africa is considering giving telecoms companies increased spectrum (or airwave capacity), as millions of people switch to home working, testing networks and driving up data traffic, the communications minister said on Wednesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown from midnight on Thursday in an address on Monday, saying Africa’s most advanced economy needed to escalate its response to the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 709 people in the country.

The telecoms industry, which is regulated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), has experienced a spike in network data traffic in recent days after thousands of schools and universities were forced to shut down.

Telkom told Reuters that it is seeing increases of 15% to 30% in data consumption across mobile and fixed connectivity, while MTN Group said it was too early to quantify the surge in data traffic.

MTN, Telkom and Vodacom are already providing free access to health sites and e-school platforms to support home learning and teaching, while MTN has waived fees on mobile money transactions in certain markets.

While South African telecoms operators say their networks have been able to cope so far, there are fears of congestion as more people work from home.

“One envisages a situation where there will be too much traffic on the network,” Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams told journalists, adding that ICASA is considering providing temporary additional spectrum.

The minister said that telecoms companies will be required to return the spectrum once the situation normalises.

“ICASA is currently engaging with sector licensees on possible ways of (providing) radio frequency spectrum relief for the duration of the declared state of disaster,” ICASA spokesman Paseka Maleka confirmed in an email.

“This is mainly to ease congestion, ensure good quality of broadband services and to enable licensees to lower cost of access to consumers (particularly in relation to education, emergency and other social services).”

Vodacom told Reuters that it will be engaging ICASA to “gain access to spectrum on a temporary basis.”

“Vodacom has also taken a decision to significantly ramp up investment spend in the short term to help manage network congestion,” group spokesman Byron Kennedy said in an email.

MTN fined R5m for hiking WhatApp bundle prices

By Kgomotso Modise for EWN 

The network has been slapped with a R5-million fine for failing to notify authorities in time before hiking the price of its 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle.

MTN says it believes its penalty from Icasa in the 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle case should be proportional to its transgression.

The network has been slapped with a R5 million fine for failing to notify authorities in time before hiking the price of its 1 gigabyte monthly WhatsApp bundle. At least R2 million of the fine is suspended for 3 years.

In a statement, MTN spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan details multiple instances where the network notified Icasa of its intentions to increase the price of its 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle.

She said they also wrote to Icasa shortly before the price hike but there was no response and it went ahead with the adjustment.

MTN said it respected the role of the authority and insisted that, at the time, the company believed that increasing the price of the bundle was the only way to ensure the continued functionality of MTN SA’s 3G network.

The network said it was very aware of the required Icasa timing, which was why it applied for leniency.

MTN will be taking the decision on review to the High Court.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) could‚ in an “extreme” case‚ have its licence revoked.

That is according to the Independent Communication Authority of SA’s (Icasa’s) Rubben Mohlaloga when questioned by 702’s John Robbie about SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s reaction to its ruling against the broadcaster.

Motsoeneng had on Monday said “no one will tell us what to do” after Icasa made a decision that compels the SABC to reverse its ban on airing the destruction of property during protests.

Mohlaloga told 702 on Tuesday that various sanctions — from a caution to a fin‚ and‚ in extreme cases‚ a licence being “suspended or revoked” — were available to Icasa if the broadcaster did not comply with its rulings.

He says the SABC had seven days to comply or indicate that it would take the ruling on legal review.

The SABC’s Kaizer Kganyago later on Tuesday told the radio station that the SABC would take the decision to the courts‚ echoing Motsoeneng’s vow on Monday to approach the High Court or the Constitutional Court for relief.

“We are challenging that ruling … we are equal to the task‚” says Motsoeneng.

He had also said all newsrooms censored news in taking daily publishing decisions.

The fact that no good news was published showed that there was censorship in all news organisations‚ he says.

In May‚ Media Monitoring Africa‚ the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition and the Freedom of Expression Institute lodged a complaint with Icasa’s complaints and compliance committee‚ challenging the validity of the SABC’s ban on protests.

In the aftermath of the ban‚ a number of senior journalists at the broadcaster face disciplinary action for questioning the decision.

The media briefing was disturbed by a protester who shouted “away with Hlaudi” and “history will judge you”. He was subsequently removed by security.

Source: www.bdlive.co.za

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