MTN has joined growing calls against Telkom’s urgent application to interdict ICASA’s auctioning of the spectrum. Telkom plans to stop the process because it says that it’s not happy with the way ICASA is handling it.

In a media statement, MTN has entered the fray with caution by pointing out that there cannot be a repeat of last year when the entire process was delayed by another year. The company says spectrum is the lifeblood of the telecommunications industry.

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said earlier this week that she regretted that she intended to engage with Telkom and ICASA to try and reach an out-of-court settlement.

MTN spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan says the regulator tried to strike a delicate balance for all industry players.

“Further delays to the spectrum auctioning are not in the interest of SA or nation need for economic recovery. While the current ITA is not perfect, we believe the regulator has tried to strike a balance for all players. Right now we need industry collaboration with all role players in the best of South Africa.”

Concerns over court actions against auction of spectrum allocation:

Telkom approaches court to stop spectrum auction

Telkom is seeking an urgent court order to prevent telecoms regulator ICASA ( Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) from holding a spectrum auction in March, which would further delay the country’s rollout of 5G and expansion of 4G capacity already held back by legal action.

Operators have waited more than 15 years for ICASA to release spectrum licences that are needed to lower data costs and add network capacity as data demand has surged and smartphone adoption continues to grow.

A previous court ruling following separate objections from Telkom, broadcaster e-tv, and MTN Group prevented last year an auction of the high-demand spectrum ICASA is due to hold by the end of March.

On Wednesday, Telkom said it had filed an application asking the Gauteng High Court to review and set aside the invitation to apply, which outlines the auction rules, spectrum bands and licence obligations, published by ICASA last month.

The application includes an urgent interdict to prevent ICASA from processing any applications until the review is heard, it said in a statement.