Icasa: Shortage of spectrum driving up data price

Icasa says the government’s controversial plan to change the way radio frequency spectrum is allocated will not take the country forward.

Icasa and Members of Parliament agree the cost of data is unaffordable for many, especially low-income earner. Picture: Stock.xchng

CAPE TOWN - Communications regulator Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) says the government’s controversial plan to change the way radio frequency spectrum is allocated will not take the country forward.

Minister Siyabonga Cwele’s Telecommunications and Postal Services Department released the long-awaited national integrated ICT Policy White Paper in October last year, proposing a wireless open access network.

The document drew fire from mobile operators over suggestions they would need to give back the high-demand spectrum they’ve been given exclusive use of.

The legal tussle between Icasa and Cwele continues over the allocation of radio frequency spectrum which could be used to provide faster internet access.

Cwele got a court order last year to stop Icasa from auctioning high-demand spectrum on the basis that the regulator should have waited until the government’s ICT policy was finalised.

Icasa officials have told Parliament’s Select Committee on Communications and Public Enterprises that the shortage of spectrum is driving up the price of data.

Icasa’s acting chairperson Rubben Mohlaloga says experimenting with policy is not going to help the country.

“It also suggests that Icasa must start a process of expropriating spectrum.”

The regulator and Members of Parliament agree the cost of data is unaffordable for many, especially low-income earners.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)