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ICASA returns fire in spectrum spat

January 7, 2022

By Chris Forrester

South Africa’s media and telecoms regulator, ICASA, has slammed telco Telkom for delaying a planned spectrum auction.

“The authority is not surprised by Telkom’s relentless resort to litigation, the conduct stretching back seven years or more ago,” ICASA said in a statement. “Telkom appears hellbent on stalling the authority’s every effort to licence the high-demand spectrum that the sector, country and our economy so badly needs.”

ICASA added that the public interest “demands that the licensing of high-demand spectrum cannot be delayed any longer”.

“Narrow and selfish commercial interests should give way to the overriding public good of cheaper data, universal access to efficient and reliable connectivity, and high-speed broadband transmission. All of this will in turn boost the post Covid-19 economic recovery which the country desperately needs,” ICASA said.

ICASA also argued that Telkom had rushed to court before it was even given the chance to consider the operator’s latest grievances. That demand is very high especially with South Africa’s government keen to have people working from home and where bandwidth is often extremely poor.

“In the light of the voluminous court papers served on the authority late yesterday, 4 January, by Telkom, ICASA is no longer able to respond to the respective parties’ correspondence by 7 January. It is almost both necessary and reasonable for the authority to study the court papers, consult with its lawyers, and take an informed and carefully considered decision before responding to Telkom and Vodacom’s correspondence,” ICASA added.

The regulator said it was determined to proceed with the March auction.

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