Wireless Open-Access Network for South Africa


The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has published its plan to license an open-access wireless network for South Africa.

This follows a period of public consultation which ICASA kicked off with an information memo explaining its plan for licensing 4G and 5G spectrum in South Africa.

“By the closing date of 31 January 2020, the Authority had received 53 written submissions which have duly been considered and analysed,” ICASA stated.

ICASA said it now intends to issue a composite Invitation to Apply (ITA) for a network operating licence (I -ECNS) and corresponding radio frequency spectrum licence for South Africa’s wireless open-access network (WOAN).

It plans to issue the ITA during the first quarter of the fiscal year (between April and June 2020) and allow interested parties six months to apply.

ICASA will evaluate applications for the service and spectrum licences according to the following criteria (amongst others to be detailed in the published ITA):

  • Promotion of competition and transformation in the ICT sector
  • Interests of consumers
  • Equity ownership by Historically Disadvantaged persons and South African citizens
  • Viability of the proposed service
  • Technical efficiency
  • Functional efficiency
  • Economic efficiency

Applications will be subject to a public consultation process.

“Applications will be made available for public scrutiny and interested stakeholders are invited to make written and oral submissions on the applications,” ICASA stated.

ICASA provided the following chart which outlines the process it is going to follow.

  1. April – June 2020: Publication of an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for an I -ECNS Licence for a period of 6 months (Q1 2020/21 FY).
  2. July – September 2020: National workshops on the published ITA to provide clarity and guidance to prospective applicants (Q2 2020/21 FY).
  3. January – March 2021: Publication of received applications for public comments for a period of 30 days and receipt of responses from applicants for 30 days (Q4 2020/21 FY).
  4. April – June 2021: Public hearings. Stakeholders can request to make oral representations in their written submissions (Q1 2021/22 FY).
  5. October – December 2021: Analysis of applications and all relevant submissions, deliberations, decision and licence award (Q3 2021/22 FY).


This article first appeared on My Broadband

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