by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – SOUTH Africa’s third largest mobile network provider, Telkom, has filed a legal application to stop the upcoming spectrum auction by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
The mobile operator confirmed the application at the Gauteng High Court to review and set aside the Invitations To Apply (ITAs) published on December 10, 2021.
The application includes an urgent interdict to prevent ICASA from processing any applications until the review is heard.
Telkom stated it had “serious difficulties” with ICASA’s decision to again include sub 1GHz spectrum in the intended auction.
This band is currently the subject of a legal challenge brought by e-tv.
Telkom believes the outcome of the legal proceedings, set to be heard starting on March 14, will have a material impact on the availability of spectrum in this band.
Dr Siyabonga Mahlangu, Telkom’s Group Executive: Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, said the timing of the ITA was “ill-conceived” as the auction process does not consider the timing and impact of the findings of the legal challenge.
“This is further compounded by the lack of clarity around the WOAN as the ITA for the WOAN has not been published,” Mahlangu continued.
WOAN is the Wireless Open Access Network.
ICASA has indicated that it wishes to reconsider the timing of the licensing of the WOAN.
According to Telkom, this has serious consequences for the ITA that was published in December 2021.
Mahlangu said Telkom hoped the withdrawal of the previous ITA and referral of the matter back to ICASA for reconsideration in terms of the court order during September 2021 would have been followed by extensive consultation to understand the challenges the previous ITAs presented.
“Unfortunately, this did not happen and regrettably, we find ourselves in this position once again,” Mahlangu stated.
The executive added the competitive landscape was key for the entire sector, not only Telkom.
“The impacts of a further skewing of competition in this market, through ill-considered licensing of spectrum, will be long lasting and negatively affect the availability of services and prices to consumers.”
– CAJ News