Telkom calls for ‘fair and transparent’ new spectrum auction rules

Communications and digital technologies minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the ministry continues to engage with mobile operators and other relevant parties to find an amicable solution to auctioning spectrum licensing. Stock photo.
Communications and digital technologies minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the ministry continues to engage with mobile operators and other relevant parties to find an amicable solution to auctioning spectrum licensing. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/TOMASZ WYSZOLMIRSKI

Telkom on Wednesday called on the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to create new spectrum licensing auction rules that were “fair and transparent” after the regulator consented to a court order declaring the previous process flawed.

The country’s third biggest telecom company had asked a court to prevent Icasa auctioning new 3G, 4G and 5G spectrum licences, claiming the terms of the auction were unfair.

On Tuesday Icasa said it would consent to the order at a hearing scheduled for September 15 after failing to reach a settlement with Telkom and others, including broadcaster eMedia Holdings and No 2 operator MTN, which had pursued separate cases.

The failure of Icasa and the companies to reach common ground was another blow to the country’s much-awaited spectrum auction, which has been high on government’s agenda to usher in a digital revolution and create thousands of jobs.

The auction has already been delayed by more than a decade, forcing companies to rely on older spectrum to offer high-speed 4G connectivity to subscribers.

“We call on Icasa, the minister and the industry at large to cooperate in making sure a proper fresh start is embarked upon that is fair and transparent and will lead all the current market structure flaws to be adequately addressed,” said Telkom chief executive Sipho Maseko.

The regulator’s decision to back down on spectrum auction litigation was an acknowledgement the process was “irredeemably flawed”, Telkom said.

MTN said it was reviewing Icasa’s statement.

Communications and digital technologies minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the ministry continues to engage with mobile operators and other relevant parties to find an amicable solution.

Reuters

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