Services Licensing

In accordance with the ICASA Act and the Electronic Communications Act, ICASA is responsible for the licensing of broadcasting services, electronic communication services and postal services.

The main service licences that ICASA issues can be categorised as follows:

Electronic communication services

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Electronic communications network services (ECNS)

  1. Individual – electronic communications network services

  2. Class - electronic communications network services

Electronic communications services (ECS)

  1. Individual - electronic communications services

  2. Class - electronic communications services

Broadcasting services

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Commercial broadcasting service licences

  1. Commercial sound broadcasting service

  2. Television broadcasting service

Public broadcaster

The South African Broadcasting Corporation is the only licensed public broadcaster in South Africa

Community broadcasting licences

  1. Sound broadcasting service

  2. Television broadcasting service

Postal services

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Reserved postal services licence

The South African Post Office (SAPO) is the only reserved postal service licensee

Unreserved postal certificate

Courier services

1. ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS SERVICES

1.1 Electronic Communications Network Service Licence

There are two categories of ECNS licences, namely: 

  • Class ECNS licence 
  • Individual ECNS licence  

Class ECNS (CECNS) licences are limited to a local or district municipal scope and entitle the licensee to provide commercial electronic communications network services within a particular geographical area (for example, the City of Cape Town), while individual ECNS (I-ECNS) licences are operated for commercial purposes on a provincial and/or national scope.

Applications for I-ECNS licences

Applications for I-ECNS licences can only be lodged with the Authority after a policy directive has been issued by the minister of communications. Thereafter, the Authority may issue the invitation to apply (ITA) wherein all interested persons may apply. The licence application fee is included in the ITA.

Applications for CECNS licences

For CECNS licences, the registration notice can be lodged with the Authority at any time by completing Form A, which is contained in the Processes and Procedures Regulations for Class Licences published on 14 June 2010 in Government Gazette No. 33297. These regulations are available in the table below. The registration notice must be accompanied by the proof of payment of a non-refundable application fee of R10 400, which must be paid into ICASA’s bank account.

Title Publish Date Gazette Number Download
Title Publish Date Gazette Number Download

1.2 Electronic Communications Service License 

There are two categories of ECS licences, namely: 

  • Class ECS licence and 
  • Individual ECS licence

Class ECS (CECS) licences are limited to a local or district municipal scope and entitle the licensee to provide commercial electronic communications services within a particular geographical area (for example, the City of Cape Town), while individual ECS (I-ECS) licences are operated for commercial purposes on a provincial and/or national scope. A CECS licence does not give the licensee the right to apply for numbers from the Authority’s national numbering plan.  

Applications for I-ECS licences

Applications for I-ECS licences can only be lodged once the Authority has issued an ITA inviting all interested persons to apply for an individual licence. The licence application fee will be included in the ITA. With I-ECS licences, there is no requirement for a policy directive by the Minister of Communications. 

Applications for CECS licences

For CECS licences, the registration notice can be lodged with the Authority at any time by completing “Form A” which is contained in the Processes and Procedures Regulations for Class licences published on 14 June 2010 in Government Gazette No. 33297, which are available on ICASA website. The registration notice must be accompanied by proof of payment of a non-refundable application fee of R10 400.00, which must be paid into ICASA’s bank account.

1.3 Licence Exemptions

Private electronic communications network (PECN), electronic communications service (ECS), and small electronic communications network (SECN) licence exemptions

PECN and ECS licence exemptions are subject to the terms and conditions prescribed for exempted services as contained in the Licence Exemption Regulations published in the Government Gazette No. 31289 of 29 July 2008, read with section 6 of the EC Act. 

When a company or entity wants to build, construct, maintain and operate a network used principally for or integrally related to the internal operations of that company, a PECN licence exemption is required. 

In the event that a company or entity would like to resell electronic communications services, duly obtained from upstream ECS providers, it would need to apply for an ECS licence exemption.

Small electronic communications networks are also licence-exempt.  

Applicants for the above-mentioned licence exemptions are required to complete Form M, which is contained in the Processes and Procedures Regulations for Class Licences published on 14 June 2010 in Government Gazette No. 33297. These regulations are available on ICASA’s website. There is no application fee for a licence exemption application.

2. BROADCASTING SERVICES

Regulations

  • The Electronic Communications Act, No. 36 of 2005
  • Broadcasting Act, No. 4 of 1999
  • Processes and Procedures Regulations for Class Licences, 2010
  • Standard Terms and Conditions Regulations for Class Licences, 2010
  • Other ICASA’s Policies and Regulations in relation to broadcasting

2.1 Community sound broadcasting

A moratorium was placed on new applications for community radio stations. The moratorium was published on 22 September 2015, Government Gazette 918, Notice No. 29226.

When applying for a class broadcasting service licence, an applicant is required to complete and submit to the Authority Form B, which is contained in the Class Licensing Processes and Procedures Regulations (as amended) published on 14 June 2010 in Government Gazette No. 33297. Only non-profit entities are eligible to apply. The registration notice must be accompanied by the proof of payment of a non-refundable application fee of R1 088, which must be paid into ICASA’s bank account.

For special event community sound licences for a period not exceeding 45 days, applicants are required to complete and submit to the Authority Form N, which is contained in the Class Licensing Processes and Procedures Regulations (as amended) published on 14 June 2010. Only non-profit entities are eligible to apply and the licence cannot be extended. The registration notice must be accompanied by the proof of payment of a non-refundable application fee of R544, which must be paid into ICASA’s bank account.

2.2 Community television broadcasting

Only non-profit entities are eligible to apply for community TV broadcasting licences. Applicants are required to complete and submit to the Authority Form B for a class broadcasting service licence, which is contained in the Class Licensing Processes and Procedures Regulations (as amended), published on 14 June 2010 in Government Gazette No. 33297. The registration notice must be accompanied by the proof of payment of a non-refundable application fee of R3 264, which must be paid into ICASA’s bank account.

For temporary community television licences for a period not exceeding one year, an applicant is required to complete and submit to the Authority Form N, which is contained in the Class Licensing Processes and Procedures Regulations (as amended) published on 14 June 2010. Only non-profit entities are eligible to apply and the licence is non-renewable. 

The registration notice must be accompanied by proof of payment of a non-refundable application fee of R3 264, which must be paid into ICASA’s bank account.

On 29 March 2010, the Authority issued a moratorium on the licensing of terrestrial community television licenses until further notice. 

All broadcasting licence applications must include five hard copies, as well as an electronic copy of the application, and must be submitted to the registry.

2.3 Low-power broadcasting license

Please note that the current moratorium on community broadcasting licensing also applies to low-power community broadcasting licences.

There are two types of low-power broadcasting licences, namely a low-power commercial broadcasting licence and low power community broadcasting licence. The Position Paper and Regulations for Low-Power Sound Services govern this service. The Class Licensing Processes and Procedure Regulations (as amended) and Standard Terms and Conditions for Class Broadcasting Services are also applicable. These documents are available on the ICASA website.

Applicants are required to complete and submit to the Authority the application form for a low-power broadcasting licence, which is contained in the Guidelines to Apply for a Low-Power Sound Broadcasting Service Licence. Only non-profit making entities are eligible to apply for low-power community broadcasting licences. 

Registrations for low-power community broadcasting licences are currently not being processed by the Authority because of a moratorium that was issued by ICASA on 29 March 2010. The Authority issued a moratorium on the licensing of terrestrial community television licences, which is in place until further notice. 

The registration notice for a low-power commercial must be accompanied by proof of payment of a non-refundable application fee of R5 439, which must be paid into ICASA’s bank account.

2.4 National commercial radio stations

The Authority issues an invitation to apply (ITA) for a commercial sound broadcasting service licence to which interested parties apply in response. Details of the licence application fee are included in the ITA. When considering an application for a new commercial broadcasting service, the Authority takes into account the provisions of section 51 of the Electronic Communications Act, No. 36 of 2005. 

There is at present no national commercial sound broadcasting service licensee.

3. POSTAL SERVICES

How to apply for a reserved postal services licence and unreserved postal certificate (courier service):

For a reserved postal service licence, the minister of communications must issue a policy directive directing the Authority to issue an invitation to apply (ITA), inviting all interested persons to apply for the licence. Currently, the South African Post Office (SAPO) is the only reserved postal service licensee.

For an unreserved postal service certificate, an application can be lodged with the Authority at any time by completing Form A, which is contained in the Unreserved Postal Services Regulations published on 08 January 2010 in Government Gazette No. 32859 (see below). A copy of the business plan, founding documents, proof of payment of a non-refundable application fee of R1 000 that must be paid into ICASA’s bank account, and proof of the entity’s registration must be attached to the completed application form. A registration certificate is valid for a period of three years from the date of issue.

The application fee of R1 000 for unreserved postal services must be deposited into the following ICASA bank account:

Bank: Nedbank 
Account No: 1454090456
Branch code: 198765
Branch: Nedbank South Africa
Swift code: NEDSZAJJ

Title Publish Date Gazette Number Download
Title Publish Date Gazette Number Download
Unreserved Postal Services Regulations 2010-01-08 32859