Vodacom wants 2.6GHz spectrum auction postponed

Vodacom South Africa has called on the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to delay the auction of spectrum in the 2.6GHz band. According to Techcentral, Vodacom regulatory adviser Mortimer Hope said the spectrum in the 2.6GHz band should be auctioned at the same time as the ‘digital dividend’ spectrum in the 800MHz band. Icasa is expected to auction spectrum in the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands later this year. Hope noted that the 800MHz band is far better for wider coverage, and already providers are refarming the 900MHz spectrum that was traditionally used for voice to provide broadband coverage. Although the 2.6GHz band also can be used for LTE, the high frequency range makes it less suitable for wide coverage and more suitable for bolstering city coverage and providing additional capacity. Icasa is in the process of finalising how it plans to licence the spectrum in the 2.6GHz band. However, the authority’s recently released spectrum regulations could result in most of the larger players being excluded from bidding for the spectrum. The new regulations require that companies have 30 percent of their equity in the hands of historically disadvantaged individuals (HDIs). Vodacom could use the additional time afforded by a postponement in the auction to bolster its HDI requirement and bid for an assignment in both frequencies.

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