The South African government says the wholesale open access network (WOAN) will address past imbalances in the country’s telecommunications industry, ITWeb reported. Communications and digital technologies minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams indicated that through the WOAN, the government aims to change the status quo in the industry and empower previously disadvantaged groups. In South Africa, the industry is dominated by mobile operators such as Vodacom and MTN which have been waiting for years for the allocation of spectrum to boost their services.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has released the long-awaited invitation to apply (ITA) for both the international mobile telecommunications (IMT) spectrum, also known as high-demand spectrum, and the WOAN. The closing date for the IMT spectrum ITA is 28 December 2020, and the WOAN ITA closes on 30 March 2021.
In the policy, the communications minister directs that a portion of unallocated high-demand spectrum must first be assigned to a network category of licensees known as wholesale open access networks, and the remainder must then be assigned to other eligible licensees.
It also states that preferential treatment must be given to a WOAN concerning the assignment of certain spectrum within the 700 MHz, 800 MHz and 2,600 MHz bands. A WOAN must be a consortium at least 70 percent owned by South Africans, that participate voluntarily and comply with the empowerment requirements contemplated in the Electronic Communications Act.