ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of SA) has decided to allocate national WiMax licences to six operators, but only those that fulfill the most stringent BEE criteria to be able to apply.
Currently, Sentech and Wireless Business Solutions (which supplies spectrum to iBurst and Vodacom) have for WiMax licences and a number of other network providers, having rolled out pilots last year, are awaiting clarity on their own licence bids.
This week's ruling holds out hope for six new licencees, which will be given the right to national coverage, with 20MHx each, on a technology-neutral basis.
The allocation will take place in a two-phase process: the first pre-qualification, or "beauty contest" stage will be followed by an auction.
ICASA has decided that the most important criteria for pre-qualifying will be on the transformation agenda rather than skills, coverage or the ability to finance a nationwide network roll-out.
In order to pre-qualify, applicants must be at least 51% black-owned, with an emphasis on women.
Applicants must also be aligned with Employment Equity, Preferential Procurement and Skills Development.