Legalities Edit

All these articles uses the term illegal, without citing the relevant criminal conviction and court ruling: such conviction doesn't exist because the NPA hasn't and isn't going to prosecute any usage of spectrum above 1Ghz. Something only becomes illegal and law in the light of a court ruling. Naspers problem journalists refuse to use factually and legally correct terminology, Icasa doesn't decide what is legal or not, the courts do and the courts don't decide what gets prosecuted, the NPA does.

Icasa news Edit

Johannesburg - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has sealed and seized WBS radio communication equipment at six Gauteng sites.

The Authority's inspectors are conducting tests to verify allegations that WBS has or is reconnecting the affected radio-communication equipment.

In October 2012 ICASA adopted a hard-line approach to non-compliance with regard to the collection of outstanding radio frequency licence fees. As a result, ICASA inspectors commenced with investigations that led to the crackdown on WBS earlier this week.

The Authority's action against WBS forms part of a national drive to recover all outstanding licence fees from electronic communications, broadcasting and postal licensees.

To this end, the Authority has been engaging several affected licensees to make payment arrangements for all outstanding radio spectrum licence fees.


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Court interdict Edit

Wireless Business Solutions (WBS), the owner of iBurst, has won a high court interdict against the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) forcing the regulator to return its confiscated equipment. The interdict also prohibits the regulator from interfering with the provisioning of WBS’s services.

WBS and ICASA are currently engaged in a dispute over the amount due by WBS to ICASA for WBS’s radio frequency spectrum licences that WBS has held for between 4 and 7 years.

According to WBS it has been engaging with ICASA to determine what amount is owing.

WBS said in a press statement that on 3 April 2013, without notice, inspectors from ICASA entered the premises of WBS/iBurst and seized their radio transmission equipment.

“In fact, these negotiations were ongoing while the seizure of equipment took place,” said WBS.

ICASA’s actions resulted in interruption of iBurst and Broadlink services to numerous residential clients and businesses.

“In view of what WBS regards as unlawful deprivation of its property and interference with the provision of services to its client, WBS launched an urgent application in the South Gauteng High Court on Friday,” WBS explained.

In the application, WBS sought the return of its equipment and an interdict preventing ICASA from interfering with the provision of its services, pending an application by WBS to declare that it is in possession of lawful licences.

The case was heard on Friday afternoon, and the interim order that WBS sought was granted. ICASA responds

ICASA said in a press statement that it acknowledged the Interim Court Order of the South Gauteng High Court to hand back radio communications equipment that the regulator sealed and seized earlier this week.

“The Interim Court Order is valid until 25 May 2013 and does not exempt WBS from their obligations, as the operator is still required to settle all outstanding radio frequency licence fees,” ICASA said.

“We remain steadfast in our resolve to recover all outstanding radio frequency licence fees from all affected operators.” More iBurst and ICASA news

ICASA breaks silence on iBurst equipment seizure

iBurst network outage update

Truth behind iBurst network problems

‘Illegal’ spectrum usage battle Forum Debate WBS, ICASA battle continues << Click for more Tags: Headline, iBurst, ICASA, WBS

Illegal spectrum Edit

There is a storm brewing between Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) over unpaid license fees for its microwave backhaul network.

ITWeb recently reported that WBS owes ICASA around R24 million for microwave links which it did not declare to the regulator.

“WBS has since applied for some of the links to be licensed, but ICASA’s council refuses to sanction the use of spectrum until WBS pays the outstanding fees, which have been due for almost two years,” ITWeb reports.

A source close to the company’s operations said that WBS/iBurst has been running unlicensed microwave links for many years, and that it was definitely not a secret to top management.

It is understood that the long application period to get a link approved through ICASA often prompted WBS to construct links without following the proper procedure.

ICASA explains

ICASA explained that WBS was licenced for spectrum on a national basis with the condition that they inform the regulator as soon as new links are rolled out. “WBS/iBurst has failed to do this,” said ICASA.

“The past year has seen most of the links that are currently being used by WBS getting licenced and the Authority is in the process of licensing the remaining links,” said ICASA.

“There are currently a number of applications for links that were forwarded to Council for approval but were rejected due to the fact that WBS is owing approximately R24m in outstanding licence fees,” said ICASA.

ICASA said that they are currently in discussions with WBS to finalise the matter around payment of outstanding licence fees.

“The company has been operating approximately 1000 unlicensed links some of which have been licenced especially for their point to area assignments such as 1800 MHz, 3.5 GHz, etc,” explained ICASA.

“The licences that are outstanding relate to those links which they rolled out from 1 April 2010 up to now without authorisation from the Authority.”

ICASA added that WBS said that they will recalculate the fee from their side and make a payment next month.

“Should there be any further dispute about the amount they need to pay and the one they believe is due to the Authority, there will be engagements with the Authority,” ICASA concluded.

Putting operations at risk?

WBS’s microwave links are used by both iBurst for their backhaul network and by Broadlink to provide their clients with reliable wireless connectivity.

Some industry players questioned whether WBS put iBurst and Broadlink’s network – and hence also their clients’ operations – at risk by not adhering to the licensing procedure.

Broadlink responds Mike Brown

Mike Brown

Broadlink MD Mike Brown told MyBroadband that while they do not handle regulatory issues and are essentially only a service provider of WBS, they are confident that their links are licensed and paid for.

Brown is further perplexed by the R24 million figure being bandied around, arguing that if WBS did not accurately log all their links with ICASA, how can the regulator come up with an accurate figure of spectrum fees owed?

Brown said that he is comfortable that their links are licensed and paid for, and that it is business as usual at Broadlink.

iBurst not saying much

iBurst/WBS was contacted to gain clarity on how many links the company operated since they started operations, and how many links were licensed and paid for, but the company did not want to disclose these figures.

iBurst explained that “in terms of the number of links deployed and outstanding fees thereof, this forms the basis of our discussion with ICASA”.

“Further, in terms of deploying links on spectrum allocated on a national basis, each operator rolls out and reports all links deployed to ICASA thus it is our view that WBS has never deployed any illegal links which were never reported to ICASA,” said WBS.

iBurst executives and staff not very talkative

iBurst’s executive head of human resources and legal Pearlene Singh would not answer questions about the WBS licensing issues, saying that she is on holiday and would appreciate it if she is not disturbed.

Former iBurst MD Alan Knott-Craig Junior did not respond to questions as to whether he was aware of any unlicensed microwave links, or unpaid spectrum fees, while he served as iBurst MD.

Former iBurst CEO Jannie van Zyl could also not comment, saying that he is “under a Non Disclosure Agreement with WBS and thus cannot comment on matters related to WBS or its subsidiaries including iBurst.” Sasan Parvin

Sasan Parvin

iBurst technical director Sasan Parvin told MyBroadband that their marketing or regulatory departments would be better positioned to answer questions about the legality and licensing of the company’s microwave links.

Parvin did however say that he would never build links which have not been approved and which use unlicensed spectrum.

Current iBurst CEO Thami Mtshali could not be reached for comment.

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