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Vodacom welcomes ICASA temporary spectrum decision

By , ITWeb
South Africa , 17 Apr 2020
ICASA has released emergency lockdown spectrum to several recipients in South Africa, including Vodacom.
ICASA has released emergency lockdown spectrum to several recipients in South Africa, including Vodacom.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has assigned temporary spectrum to, among other recipients, Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Liquid Telecom and Rain, according to an ITWeb report.

The organisation has responded to 35 applications amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

Vodacom issued a statement welcoming ICASA’s announcement that it has approved Vodacom’s application for temporary spectrum in all of the 700, 800, 2300, 2600 and 3500 bands.

“In addition to the accelerated R500 million in network infrastructure investment announced on Wednesday by Vodacom, the temporary assignment of spectrum will help alleviate network congestion during the Covid-19 lockdown in South Africa. In recent weeks, Mobile network traffic has increased by circa 40% as more people work from home and turn to online services for entertainment. This additional spectrum will be made available from the date which the temporary license is issued by ICASA and can be used until the earlier of either three months after the national disaster period has ended or 30 November 2020,” the company added.

The operator added that demand for data has also risen following initiatives launched on 1 April 2020 whereby 30-day data bundle prices were reduced by up to 40%, and the launch of ConnectU, Vodacom’s zero-rated platform that consolidates a range of essential services.

Vodacom Group CEO, Shameel Joosub, said: “Vodacom remains focused on providing the highest quality network service to all of its customers during and beyond the Covid-19 lockdown period and we will continue to support the South African government’s efforts to flatten the curve in whatever way we can. The temporary spectrum which we have been assigned will go a long way towards alleviating network congestion in the coming weeks, and in the event that the lockdown period is extended further.”

According to the operator ICASA stipulated that all successful licensees for temporary spectrum assignments must ensure that they support and create virtual teaching and classrooms as determined by the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

“Vodacom’s e-School platform, a free curriculum-aligned service for subscribers, has seen user registrations on the platform increase to over 1 million to date. In March alone we saw over 100 000 new registrations, up from 25 000 in February, signifying a four-fold increase in the number of new registrations on the platform,” reads the statement.

ICASA also stipulates the zero-rating of all Covid-19 sites as identified by the Department of Health.

In partnership with the DoH, Vodacom said it zero-rated on 24 March 2020.

More recently Vodacom also zero-rated the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s uFiling platform in partnership with the UIF.

Vodacom will continue to increase the number of zero-rated sites and is currently working towards finalising its virtual classroom solution.

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