South Africa’s telecoms regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), said on Wednesday it will challenge a court application by state-owned Telkom seeking to halt the auction of high-demand spectrum licences seen as a key pillar of attracting new investment.
Allocation of high-demand spectrum is vital to expanding broadband services, especially 5G, in Africa’s most industrialised economy, where the high cost of telecommunications is a barrier to doing business.
“They actually want to stop the whole process for licensing spectrum,” Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka told Reuters.
Telkom did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, but in its earlier statement to investors the part government-owned company said the auctions of spectrum will help dominant players with deep pockets to capture a bigger part of the future telecom market in the country.
The invitations for wholesale open-access network (Woan) and commercial high-demand spectrum for mobile operators such as Vodacom Group, MTN Group and Telkom – three of the biggest telecom service providers in South Africa – were issued on October 2.
Icasa said it received the court application on Tuesday in respect to the call for submissions for both Woan and high demand spectrum.
“The Authority is currently reviewing the court application and has engaged its legal representatives to oppose the court application,” Icasa said in a statement.
It said applications for the international mobile spectrum remained open until December 28, and have so far not been affected by the court case.