ICASA provides an update on spectrum auction and further debunks the 5G myths

 Following the recent media reports about Telkom launching a court application in respect of the Invitation To Apply (“ITA”) for high demand spectrum or International Mobile Telecommunications (“IMT”) spectrum as well as the ITA for the Wireless Open Access Network (“WOAN”), the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA/the Authority) hereby informs all stakeholders that Telkom has decided to withdraw Part A of the court application.

Part A of Telkom’s application was meant to compel the Authority to inform all parties who may have an interest in applying for spectrum licences through the International Mobile Telecommunications (“Auction ITA”) and the WOAN ITA of Telkom’s application. However, Telkom’s is still proceeding with Part B and Part C of its application.

ICASA remains committed to see this licensing process to its completion for the benefit of all South Africans, in particular, consumers of electronic communication services. “Our efforts are geared towards licensing the high demand spectrum through an auction by no later than end of March 2021. We have adequately consulted relevant stakeholders and the public throughout this process and cannot do so to a point of regulatory paralysis”, says ICASA Chairperson, Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng.

Dr Modimoeng further stated that South Africans deserve all the benefits of licensing the spectrum, and this includes improved quality of service and experience, as well as the related reduced data and voice costs.

The 5G myths vis-à-vis COVID-19

The Authority continues to note media reports with regards to the deployment of the Fifth-Generation (5G) technologies and infrastructure and its purported relation to the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Authority would like to urge all South Africans not to be swayed by these conspiracy theories that are hell-bent on bringing instability and fear within the nation.

In its media statement dated 6 April 2020, the Authority debunked these conspiracy theories that link the spread of COVID-19 to the deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) technologies. The Authority would like to reiterate its position that the development of standards for International Mobile Telecommunication for 2020 (IMT-2020) and beyond (commercially known as 5G), is continuing at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU); and that the administration, including ICASA, contribute and participates in these processes.

“We all need to rely on scientifically-based evidence and refrain from these baseless theories. Some of the frequencies earmarked and trialled for 5G deployment by industry players were previously assigned to various operators in South Africa – way before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in 2020. Such fake theories can only cause despair and unnecessary technophobia among South Africans and must be strongly condemned”, says Dr Modimoeng.

South Africa adheres to the relevant standards prescribed by both the ITU and the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the former’s focus being primarily on the regulation of radio frequency electromagnetic field emissions. The Authority confirms that type-approved electronic communications facilities provided in the country adhere to the prescribed standards and that there is no evidence that they pose any health risks to the country and/or its citizens.

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