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Lobby Group Black IT Forum Takes ICASA to Court Over TV White Space

“Sadly, the commencement of commercial TVWS has once again been delayed for another 9 months because ICASA is saying that they want to go through a tendering process to get a service provider that will perform the certification of secondary geo-location spectrum database providers."

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tv white space
Rural broadband. Image source: Axios

Lobby group the Black Information Technology Forum (BITF) is taking the country’s communications regulator ICASA to court.

“The BITF has resolved to launch an urgent legal process to challenge ICASA’s decision to delay commencement of commercial TV White Space (TVWS) in court and expose any individual at ICASA and their external handlers that are using public resources to sabotage progressive transformational government programs meant to save lives during the COVID- 19 disaster period and assist rural economy recovery beyond the COVID-19 period,” BITF said in a statement on Wednesday.

The BITF is a national non-profit organisation which represents previously disadvantaged individuals within the ICT Sector.

It comprises of different types of members which include students, professionals and SMMEs.

Its objective is to facilitate transformation, advocate for change and encourage the empowerment of ICT SMMEs within the ICT Sector. The organisation has substantial Wireless Internet Service Providers members who are currently frustrated by ICASA’s decision on the TVWS commercial deployment in South Africa.

“The unnecessary delays ICASA in announcing the commencement of TVWS usage in the country tantamount to killing of indigenous, locally developed world-class innovation and technologies that have huge potential to spearhead the fourth industrial revolution in South Africa led by ICT SMMEs,” said BITF’s Secretary-General Sanele Gcumisa.

ICASA responds: ICASA Refutes Black IT Forum’s Allegations Over TV White Spaces

The President of South Africa in his recent communique has made it clear that spectrum should be urgently made available to enable the roll-out of broadband network infrastructure to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and also to serve as a catalyst in reviving the ailing economy and creation of employment opportunities.

Why ICASA seems to be sabotaging the President’s efforts?

“Sadly, the commencement of commercial TVWS has once again been delayed for another 9 months because ICASA is saying that they want to go through a tendering process to get a service provider that will perform the certification of secondary geo-location spectrum database providers,” said Gcumisa.

“Surprisingly, this is exactly the job description which ICASA is supposed to be doing themselves. Why then wasting taxpayer’s money on a tendering process to support delay tactics?”

Gcumisa added that these illogical acts by ICASA also denies the underserved and unconnected marginalised communities, the much-needed affordable broadband connectivity and digital inclusion.

In addition, Gcumisa said the cases of several COVID-19 TVWS applications submitted by ICT SMMEs that were dubiously rejected by ICASA are still unresolved.

“This dark cloud of uncertainty and contradictions created by ICASA brings the industry to a halt as no financial investments can be invested in full commercial deployment.”

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