On 1 November 2019, ICASA published the much anticipated Information Memorandum for the high-demand spectrum licensing process for comment (the Information Memorandum can be accessed here) . The information memorandum follows on the publication of the Policy on High Demand Spectrum and Policy Direction on the Licensing of a Wireless Open Access Network, which mandated ICASA to develop an approach to licensing the 4G and 5G spectrum.

The Information Memorandum invites comments on ICASA’s views on the licensing of spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.3GHz, 2.6GHz, and 3.5GHz radio frequency bands. ICASA has said that “the licensing of high demand spectrum is one of the critical components to facilitate deployment of digital infrastructure to ensure that all consumers and the business environment participate meaningfully in future Information and Communications Technology (ICT) opportunities towards the digital economy.” The Information Memorandum further provides guidance to stakeholders and prospective applicants on the process and criteria to be applied by the Authority in the licensing of the spectrum.

ICASA’s proposal is for there to be an auction to award the spectrum to the highest bidder.

Interested persons are invited to make written submissions on the views expressed in the Information Memorandum by no later than 16h00 on Friday, 31 January 2020 as outlined in terms of the published Government Gazette. Given that the Information Memorandum is the initial step, and in light of the past delays in the assignment of spectrum, the Authority urges stakeholders to make their submissions within the stipulated deadline for submission of representations on the Information Memorandum.

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