South Africa’s Independent Communications Authority (Icasa) raised the ire of the Minister of Telecommunications in July, when it issued an invitation to applicants to apply for licenses in the 700MHz, 800 MHz and 2600MHz spectrum.
While the matter should be finalised soon, DA Shadow Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Marian Shinn said that a number of things need to change in the Invitation to Apply (ITA) in order to appease everybody.
“It is our view that the ITA be amended in response to valid criticisms lodged with ICASA and any actions that the court may request to ensure speedy auction of the spectrum. South Africa desperately needs the spectrum to rapidly bridge the digital divide between marginalised and privileged communities in the best interests of service delivery, economic growth and international inclusion,” she said in a statement.
Shinn suggested that minister Cwele must withdraw from the ICT Paper his proposed plan for a national wireless open access network, for which Lot A of the ITA has been reserved, until the public has sight of his network plan and has had ample opportunity to engage with its structure, management and funding.
“This must be done in a process separate from the ICT White Paper to avoid further delaying its Cabinet approval.”
Shinn also accused the minister of not being willing to engage the committee on the details of his application, despite having conducted a number of media interviews on why the auction was at odds with his plans for a Wireless Open Access Network as envisaged in the ICT White Paper.
“South Africa cannot afford to keep treading water on its full participation in the knowledge economy while spectrum wars and potential years-long litigation on the issue hold us back,” she concluded.
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