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ICASA Invites Comment on Draft Radio Frequency Migration Plan and Regulations

August 21, 2012

Department of Communications

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has invited comment on draft radio frequency migration regulations and a radio frequency migration plan.

Published in notice 606 of Government Gazette 35598 dated 17 August 2012, the draft regulations were developed under Electronic Communications Act 36 of 2005 and seek to establish a framework within which ICASA may “migrate” radio frequency spectrum users within a band or from one band to another.

According to the document concerned, radio frequency spectrum migration becomes necessary for a variety of reasons including:

• improvements in the efficiency of spectrum usage;
• harmonisation with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) frequency allocation plan; and
• meeting the requirements of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

While no provision is made for users to be compensated for migration costs, it is proposed that these should nevertheless take into account the duration of the licence concerned and the economic life of the equipment.

Published in the same gazette notice, the draft plan proposes how the migration process should be managed over a three-to-five-year period.

Amongst other things, it:

• identifies radio frequency bands where migration may be required; and
• provides insights into the possible impact of radio frequency spectrum migration.

According to the draft plan, one of the “critical issues” entailed is the availability of spectrum for mobile broadband wireless access.

The deadline for written submissions on the draft plan and regulations has been set at 28 September 2012, with public hearings scheduled for early October.