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Spectrum sale in doubt after Telkom wins ruling

Suspending the process.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

South Africa’s long-awaited plan to sell more high-speed internet spectrum has been thrown into doubt after Telkom SA SOC Ltd. won a court ruling suspending the process.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa should hold off on the auction and lift a deadline for the submission of final bids while Telkom’s case is considered, according to the High Court in Pretoria.

The decision threatens to derail the sale of more than R8 billion ($516 million) of broadband spectrum following years of delays, a move designed to help revive the economy and lower data costs. The auction has long been demanded by mobile-phone operators including Telkom, but the former phone monopoly took action after concluding the terms are not to the company’s benefit.

The structure of the sale is also opposed by MTN Group, which has the country’s second-biggest number of mobile-phone subscribers and is pursuing its own legal case. The Johannesburg-based carrier argues it is being shut out of bidding for new 5G bandwidth due to its size. Market leader Vodacom Group has not objected.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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