Telkom would consider options about whether to bid for a much needed spectrum when the industry watchdog, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) makes it available through auction. By Gugu Lourie
ICASA is getting ready to auction the country’s much-needed spectrum for broadband deployment.
In a Government Gazette published on Monday Icasa said it is favouring auction process used by Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and the Czech Republic.
Telkom, the country’s biggest fixed-line telephone group that is keen on delivering broadband to most South African households, is keeping its options open at the moment on whether to apply for one of the spectrum to be auctioned by ICASA.
“The frequency bands in question are a key frequency bands internationally, especially for the delivery of mobile services. As a national player in the mobile broadband space, and in order to remain competitive in the market, Telkom will consider its options when these bands are put to auction,” says Telkom spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan.
Telkom owns Telkom Mobile, which posted a 21,2% rise in customers to 2.19 million total subscribers in the year to end-March 2015. The number was driven by the addition of 383 099 new subscribers.
Telkom Mobile also increased mobile data revenue by 50.6% to R988 million, making mobile broadband a strategic avenue for revenue growth. Data revenue now constitutes approximately 35,9% of group revenue, which increased 4,5 percent from the prior year.
A wireless broadband spectrum would enable Telkom Mobile to compete aggressively and deliver wireless broadband to South Africans and is cheaper than fibre, and quicker to deploy.
However, Telkom may provide a clear picture of its stance once it has thoroughly studied the Information Memorandum published by ICASA on Monday that provides guidance to prospective applicants regarding the process and criteria to be applied by it in the licensing of the much-needed spectrum.
Applicants will be vying to apply for the radio frequency spectrum licenses within the designated range: the 2.6GHz band and the 800 MHz band and the 700MHz band for the purposes of providing national broadband wireless access services.
The main aim of licensing 700MHz, 800MHz and 2600MHz is to ensure nationwide broadband access for all citizens by 2020.
The bids for these spectrum is likely to be competitive as bigger and smaller operators are keen on getting their hands on them to deliver wireless broadband services.