by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – THE wrangle over the freeing up of valuable spectrum is keeping the cost to communicate in South Africa high and stifling mobile innovation by early-stage businesses.
This is the concern raised by a startup as the allocation lurched into another deadlock recently.
Last week, Telkom SA interdicted the Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) from holding a spectrum auction this March.
NoPBX, the start-up, described the move as “the latest in a series of unfortunate legal proceedings keeping a valuable national resource tied up in red tape.”
“Narrow commercial interests must give way to the greater good that will follow in the form of innovation by start-ups and a lower cost to communicate for consumers,” said Anton Potgieter, co-founder and managing director of NoPBX.
“Our economy sorely needs these twin boosts, and sooner rather than later,” he said.
Potgieter said with innovation the lifeblood of a modern economy, small firms that could challenge how to do things better could only benefit from more access to the spectrum that powered data-driven lives.
“South Africa’s spectrum shenanigans are for example derailing the local rollout of 5G, which is essential to keep pace with the rest of the world. The alternative is our local economy sliding further down the array of ease-of-business, mobile innovation and other critical global rankings,” Potgieter said.
Last week, ICASA argued the public interest demands that the licensing of high-demand spectrum could not be delayed any longer.
“Narrow and selfish commercial interests should give way to the overriding public good of cheaper data, universal access to efficient and reliable connectivity, and high-speed broadband transmission,” ICASA stated.
– CAJ News