ICASA to challenge MTN demands in court
February 1, 2021
By Chris Forrester
South African telco MTN has mounted a legal challenge to the nation’s ICASA regulator over its plans to auction and award licences for 5G development in the country. MTN’s documents were filed at the Pretoria High Court on January 27th.
ICASA said on January 29th that it will oppose MTN’s legal action and that it had appointed lawyers to fight MTN’s application at the court.
“The authority would like to point out that it has been in constant communication with MTN on the issues raised in its court application. It is unfortunate that MTN has elected to proceed with instituting legal proceedings under these circumstances,” ICASA said in its statement.
“This latest litigation attempt is characteristic of either impatience or a subtle desire to channel the authority’s decision-making outlook. We, however, remain steadfast and will defend the process against these challenges,” said ICASA chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng.
“At this stage, industry players and all stakeholders need to reflect on the extent to which their commercial interests ought to override patriotic considerations. We believe that this licensing process has been balanced, with no room for a winner-takes-all attitude. The authority would like to urge all South Africans not to be alarmed by the latest litigation. The process for licensing of high-demand spectrum will continue as planned unless there is a court order issued to delay or halt the process We will go to court and argue our case in defence and furtherance of ICASA’s public-interest mandate. We will do so because South Africans deserve to benefit from the imminent release of the radio frequency spectrum through reduced data costs, improved network quality and rural broadband coverage,” added Modimoeng.