In Public Notice 597 in the Government Gazette dated 1 November 2019 on the Licensing Process for International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) Spectrum, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) invited interested stakeholders to submit their comments in respect of the Provisioning of Mobile Broadband Wireless Open Access Services for Urban and Rural Areas Using the Complementary Bands, IMT700, IMT800, IMT2300, IMT2600 and IMT3500. Zenzeleni Networks and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) jointly submitted their comments with the common objective of helping to create quality and affordable telecommunications service for all South Africans, especially those in rural areas.
The comments included three key recommendations:
Create a new Shared Access Licence that would permit geographically-limited use in underserved rural areas of a selection of unassigned IMT frequencies by not-for-profit community networks and small commercial internet service providers.
Create a new Local Access Licence that would permit geographically-limited use by community-owned networks in underserved rural areas of IMT spectrum that is assigned to an existing operator but which is unused and of limited or no commercial interest.
Establish spectrum licence fee exemptions for not-for-profit community-owned networks in order to enhance their viability in the most challenging services areas in the country.