June 2021



The primary regulatory authority of telecoms, broadcasting and postal services in South Africa is the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.  ICASA is a statutory organisation, created under the ICASA Act, with additional powers and duties given to it under the ECA, Broadcasting and Postal Services Acts.

However, the sector is also regulated by the Competition Commission, which has concurrent jurisdiction over the ICT sector by virtue of its national oversight over competition in the Republic.

The areas of jurisdiction of each tend to depend on whether a matter constitutes a merger of regulated entities, the acquisition of control, and anti-competitive conduct by licensees. 

Even in this regard ICASA maintains an interest, but it is primarily a forward-looking regulator, with ex ante jurisdiction.

Objects to be considered by ICASA

These are numerous and include promotion of diversity in broadcasting, promotion of competition in the sector generally, convergence of services, encouraging investment, promoting open access and non-discrimination, promoting BBBEE, ensuring ownership by South Africans primarily in broadcasting, and ensuring choice and reasonable prices for consumers.

The ambit of regulation

ICASA regulates technical matters such as type approval, spectrum (administration and licensing) and the allocation of numbers.  ICASA is also responsible for licensing, compliance, monitoring, complaints, sanctions, and making regulations.

The Minister has a significant role in representing the Republic in international matters, approving the national frequency spectrum plan, and determining if a new individual network service licence may be granted by ICASA.  The Minister determines policy for the sector and may give policy directions to ICASA on any matter. 

The Competition Commission may recommend various remedies or regulatory interventions to ICASA, and may itself implement sanctions such as requiring retail and wholesale businesses to be split.

National Policy

The Minister published the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper in 2016. Since that time, very little has changed in the market or in regulation, despite whole chapters being devoted to future restructuring of the market and the regulatory framework.

Wholesale open access networks and a spectrum auction

For more on this and on regulation of the ICT sector in general, contact us. This is not legal advice.