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Another bump in the road: Why Telkom has objected to spectrum auction

8 March 2021 7:46 PM
Tags:
MTN
Telkom
Icasa
ETV
Vodacom
Spectrum auction

Founder and Editor at Techcentral Duncan  McLeod analyses the latest delay caused by objections from Telkom.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), the telecoms regulator, has been ordered by the High Court to halt an auction of radio frequency spectrum licences.

McLoud talks to Bruce Whitfield about the delay.

It means the spectrum auction which had been penciled in for the end of this month is going to be postponed by several months at the very least.

Duncan McCloud, Founder and Editor - Techcentral

Unless there is some sort of agreement reached outside of court by Telkom and Icasa, then I don't see this spectrum auction going ahead this year.

Duncan McCloud, Founder and Editor - Techcentral

What is Telkom's beef with the regulator Icasa?

Telkom argues that the way the spectrum auction is designed is not going to deal with what it terms the 'duopoly' of MTN and Vodacom, explains McCloud.

They say that as it stands it is going to entrench the dominance of those two operators.

Duncan McCloud, Founder and Editor - Techcentral

They are also arguing that the digital dividend spectrum - used by the television broadcasters because digital television migration has not yet been completed - cannot be auctioned off as planned by Icasa.

Duncan McCloud, Founder and Editor - Techcentral

They are arguing that it cannot be auctioned off because the spectrum is unusable in its current form due to it still being used by SABC and e.tv to carry television broadcasts, he elaborates.

Telkom is saying therefore, it would be grossly unfair to expect Telkom as a smaller operator in the mobile market to pay a huge amount of money - probably over R1billion - to secure access to the spectrum.

Duncan McCloud, Founder and Editor - Techcentral

Telkom says not only will it impact the company's balance sheet, but it will not be able to use the spectrum for a number of years until SABC and e.tv have removed themselves from those bands.

The High Court will have to deliberate on these points raised by Telkom, but McLoud says MTN and Vodacom will be very disappointed not to have access to more spectrum they desperately need for their growing customer base, says McCloud.

They are probably hoping for an out-of-court settlement in order to go forward.

Duncan McCloud, Founder and Editor - Techcentral

Listen to the interview in the audio below:




8 March 2021 7:46 PM
Tags:
MTN
Telkom
Icasa
ETV
Vodacom
Spectrum auction

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