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ISPA calls for progress on spectrum auctions

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The Internet Service Providers' Association of South Africa (ISPA) has issued a call to ICASA and the Department of Communications (DoC) to inform industry of their progress in finalising the long-awaited spectrum auctions in the 2.6 and 3.5GHz bands.

“ISPA welcomes the news that ICASA has requested the DoC to confirm the appointment of a specialist auctioneer to handle the auction of radio frequency spectrum in the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands”, says Ant Brooks, GM of the ISPA.
The ISPA has, however, urged the DoC and ICASA to finalise this appointment as quickly as possible so that service providers and network operators can start deploying wireless broadband networks in these frequency ranges. These bands are critical for operators looking to drive broadband competition and to introduce cost effective services in under-serviced areas.
"While it is heartening to see that the DOC and ICASA are making every effort not to repeat the mistakes of the past, ISPA does not understand the reason for the current delay in finalising the required appointment and it is alarming that the auctions may not be held prior to the end of 2011,” says Brooks.
It was previously disclosed in Parliament that ICASA had submitted a shortlist of candidates for the position of specialist auctioneer in January 2011 and that the DoC was still reviewing this list.
"ISPA supports everything possible being done to ensure that the auctions produce a result which is optimal both for the meeting of socio-economic objectives and the efficient use of the available spectrum," says Brooks, “But industry needs clarity on the timelines involved and the status of the various steps, such as in-band migration, which need to take place to allow for an optimal assignment.”
ISPA also called on ICASA to provide more clarity about its plans around making regional assignments in the 3.5 GHz band so that small regional operators can assess whether they will qualify to participate. Brooks further urged ICASA to finalise the regulations around sub-leasing envisioned in the recently-published draft radio regulations before the auction takes place.