South African cellular operator Vodacom has joined telco Telkom in confronting regulator ICASA over its decision to take back “temporary” spectrum.
It means that South Africa’s three largest telcos (including MTN) are all now pursuing ICASA through the Pretoria High Court and arguing that ICASA’s timing is not right. The spectrum was made available in April last year. ICASA wants to regain the frequencies at the end of November.
Their arguments are based on the numbers of South African staff who are still working from home and need the extra temporary bandwidth to do their jobs.
MTN, in a statement on October 16th, said: “Since the start of the pandemic, the demand for data on MTN’s network alone has increased by 165 per cent and that demand is not abating, despite the much-decreased Covid-19 infection numbers. The temporary frequencies assigned to operators and paid for has been critical in meeting the data traffic surge, and without these frequencies, the networks would not have been able to provide reliable and resilient network quality, under current Covid-19 protocols where many people continue to work from home. The withdrawal of the temporary spectrum will also pose a significant risk to lower income South Africans, students and learners who are benefiting from free access,” MTN said.
A High Court hearing is scheduled for October 26th.