MTN has filed papers to oppose Telkom’s urgent application to block South Africa’s spectrum auction from going ahead on 8 March 2022.
Radio frequency spectrum is the raw network capacity that cellular network operators use to communicate between mobile devices and their towers.
Telkom approached the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday to block the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (Icasa) from going through with an auction of sought-after spectrum.
“Spectrum is not just an industry issue, this is an issue for all our people and while there are certainly elements of the [invitation to apply] that are a concern, we have to work together to best benefit the people of South Africa,” said MTN SA CEO, Charles Molapisi.
“We need to provide sustained data quality and speed but most importantly, continued reductions in the price of data. Spectrum is the key to this, and we need to collaborate now, with the regulator and all stakeholders, to unlock SA’s economic recovery,” Molapisi added.
South Africa’s mobile network operators, including Telkom, have long maintained that releasing additional spectrum will help reduce prices, increase coverage, and improve network quality.
However, Telkom said that there are major problems with Icasa’s invitation to apply (ITA) for the spectrum — chiefly that the regulator has not considered the competitive market implications of licensing the network capacity, and that important parts of the spectrum are still occupied by TV broadcaster E-tv.
In a statement issued on Friday, MTN said that although the current ITA is not perfect, it believes Icasa has tried to strike a delicate balance for all players.
“We cannot have a repeat of 2021, where the entire process was delayed for another full year, and that on the back of 14 years of no additional spectrum being added to the industry,” MTN stated.
“A successful spectrum auction has the capacity to not only release much-needed funds into the national fiscus, but it will have an immediate impact on consumers,” said MTN.
It said that Icasa’s allocation of temporary spectrum is evidence of this, as data prices have continued to fall, making Internet access even more accessible.
“Throughout last year, MTN consistently worked with the regulator to avoid further delays in the spectrum process, hence the very narrow focus of the company’s 2021 court challenge, but the time for action is now,” the operator said. @ mybroadband
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