Communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has proposed a roadmap for shutting down South Africa’s 2G and 3G networks by 2025.
The plan is contained in the ministry’s next-generation radio frequency spectrum draft policy.
Cabinet approved the policy recently, allowing it to be published for public comment.
Cabinet said in a statement, “Radio frequency spectrum is a finite natural resource that is vital to the growth of South Africa’s digital economy and communication infrastructure. The proposed policy intends to support the spectrum allocation and licensing for fixed mobile, broadcasting; aeronautical and marine; research and development; community access; and other relevant industries.”
“The policy also seeks to promote equity and fair allocation to contribute towards the transformation of the sector and accessibility of digital connectivity even in outlying parts of the country,” the statement read.
The draft policy sets out the proposed timelines for sunsetting 2G and 3G in South Africa as follows:
According to media reports, the plan was to ban the importation and distribution of 2G devices by end-February 2023. The ban has, however, been pushed back by a few months, and the plan to ban device imports has been replaced by one to prohibit further licensing.
Commenting on the proposed shutdown, Cell C has said the prices of 4G and 5G-compatible devices were a significant barrier to switching off older network technologies.
MTN has indicated that its clients rely heavily on its 2G network for machine-to-machine (Internet of Things) applications.
Meanwhile, Vodacom announced plans to turn off its 2G network by 2024.