S. Africa’s Telkom calls for new “fair and transparent” spectrum auction rules

Telkom Group CEO Sipho Maseko gestures during an interview with Reuters in Centurion, South Africa, May 28, 2018. REUTERS / Siphiwe Sibeko / File Photo

JOHANNESBURG, Sept. 8 (Reuters) – South African firm Telkom (TKGJ.J) on Wednesday called on regulator ICASA to create new auction rules for spectrum licenses that are “fair and transparent,” after the dog custody consented to a court order declaring the previous process defective.

The country’s third-largest telecommunications company had asked a court to prevent the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) from auctioning new 3G, 4G and 5G spectrum licenses, saying the terms of the auction were unfair.

ICASA said on Tuesday it would consent to the order at a hearing scheduled for September 15, after failing to reach a deal with Telkom and others, including broadcaster eMedia Holdings (EMHJ.J) and no. 2 operator MTN (MTNJ.J), which had pursued separate cases.

The failure of ICASA and the companies to find common ground has been another blow to South Africa’s highly anticipated spectrum auctions, which were among the government’s priorities to usher in a digital revolution and create thousands of jobs.

The auction has already been delayed for more than a decade, forcing companies to rely on older spectrum to offer high-speed 4G connectivity to subscribers.

“We now call on ICASA, the Minister and the industry as a whole to cooperate to ensure that a proper fresh start is made, which is fair and transparent, which will allow any shortcomings to be adequately remedied. of the current structure of the market, ”Telkom’s Managing Director Sipho Maseko said in a statement.

The regulator’s decision to reverse the spectrum auction litigation was recognition that the process was “hopelessly flawed,” Telkom said.

MTN said it is reviewing the ICASA statement.

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the ministry continues to engage with mobile operators and other relevant parties to find an amicable solution.

Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Promit Mukherjee and Jan Harvey

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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