The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), has hit out at Telkom South Africa’s latest court application as yet another attempt to try and derail the much anticipated and urgently needed spectrum licensing process.
Telkom is asking the Gauteng High Court to interdict Icasa from auctioning the International Mobile Telecommunications spectrum on 8 March 2022.
On 10 December last year Icasa published an Invitation To Apply (ITA) for the licensing process. The Telkom application includes an urgent interdict to prevent Icasa from processing any applications in the meantime.
Telkom argues that the issue of a competitive landscape is key for the entire sector and not only for Telkom.
Icasa claims it is not surprised by Telkom’s “relentless resort to litigation” over the past about seven years.
“Telkom appears hellbent on stalling Icasa’s every effort to licence the high demand spectrum that the sector, country, and our economy so badly needs. The public interest demands that the licensing of high-demand spectrum cannot be delayed any longer. Narrow and selfish commercial interests should give way to the overriding public good of cheaper data, universal access to efficient and reliable connectivity, and high-speed broadband transmission,” Icasa states.
“Telkom launched what can only be seen as a pre-emptive strike by filing an urgent application with the High Court to stall the ITA process and the auction intended for March 2022. This is highly regrettable.”
Icasa regards the process of an auction as a way of allocation of spectrum as “global best practice”, an open and transparent process. The process has been delayed for more than a decade due to disagreements and legal challenges.
Telkom, on the other hand, is of the view that the process is tilted in favour of SA’s large operators, Vodacom and MTN, and would disadvantage smaller players.
According to Icasa, Vodacom has in a letter also raised concerns about the ITA process, although on different grounds to that of Telkom. (C)Fin24