Telkom wants ICASA to engage all parties involved in spectrum issue

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Telkom has called on the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to engage all parties involved in the spectrum issue after a court order restrained it from proceeding with auctioning the spectrum.

On Monday, the High Court in Pretoria granted an interdict against ICASA to halt the auction of radio frequency spectrum licences pending another related court matter.

A International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) also known as high demand spectrum relates to the radio frequencies allocated to the mobile industry and other sectors for communication over the airwaves.

Under the court order ICASA has been prohibited from assessing any applications received for the licensing of high-demand spectrum. The order was in place pending a hearing on contentions raised by operator Telkom and broadcaster e.TV.

The ruling is a setback for top mobile operators MTN and Vodacom, which are seeking to expand 4G capacity and to roll out 5G technology.

Group Executive for Regulatory Affairs Telkom Siyabonga Mahlangu says, “ICASA regulator is a public interest. ICASA is a convening power in the mobile market. ICASA must then consult properly. It must then call everybody to the table and say how should we deal with this and then it should say ok how should we deal with those market stats?”

In a statement ICASA said, the High Court issued the order, without reasons, interdicting and restraining it from proceeding with the auction process pending the final determination of Telkom’s application to review ICASA’s decision to publish the two ITAs.

Chairperson of ICASA, Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng expressed his utmost confidence in the judiciary and though dismayed by the decision, remains resolute that the licensing process shall in due course be finalised.

Modimoeng said, “We have never been so close to licensing high demand spectrum. We were literally three (3) weeks away from auctioning this much-needed resource that would have seen South Africans benefit through this process in terms of reduced data costs and improvement in quality of service and experience. In commitment to our public interest mandate, the Council of ICASA has resolved to exhaust all legal avenues in respect of this process.”

High Court orders ICASA to halt auction of radio frequency spectrum licenses