Push for open-access network
Department commits to using Woan and wants service operators to connect as well
THE DEPARTMENT of Communications is pushing for wireless service operators, including mobile phone operators, to utilise wholesale open-access network (Woan) as opposed to each provider having its own network coverage.
Siya Qoza, spokesperson for Minister of Telecommunications Siyabonga Cwele, said yesterday that this was part of a ministerial engagement with the industry, which also discussed ICT policy, skills development and private sector involvement in the government initiatives on ICT.
“We are also moving towards Woan and it is important that companies start planning and making decisions on what action to take. There is a commitment that it be done urgently,” Qoza said.
He said Woan would allow for operators to share network usage and compete on other services such as voice or data.
“In some areas the operators’ network does not overlap, which leaves users unable to access services. Woan ensures that there is universal coverage,” Qoza said.
Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) spokesperson Paseka Maleka confirmed that the regulator was reviewing various options of licensing the 4G spectrum by April next year. This as Minister Cwele confirmed that South Africa would hold the long-delayed auction by the end of March.
In an interview, Maleka said it could not be certain that the spectrum would be auctioned because there were many options to consider.
“There is an agreement between Icasa and the department. We cannot confirm that the spectrum will necessarily be auctioned. We will announce how the licensing will take place,” Maleka said.
He said Icasa was in the process of withdrawing the Invitation To Apply (ITA) issued in 2016, which had seen a protracted court battle between the regulator and the government over how to proceed with the disposal of the spectrum.
“As soon as we are done with withdrawing the ITA, we will proceed with the licensing process,” he said.
Maleka was wary of committing to the March time frame for the auctioning or licensing of the spectrum.
Speaking on the sidelines of a ministerial engagement with the industry yesterday, Cwele said the government sought to extend high-speed internet access to a greater portion of the country.
He confirmed that the government was working on offering 5G licences by 2020.
MOBILE phone operators are being encouraged to use open-access (Woan).
ZIMBABWEAN-BORN entrepreneur Lethukuthula Tshabangu.