MTN Group reportedly opposed a legal challenge raised by Telkom South Africa to prevent the country’s communications regulator from holding a spectrum auction in March.
Last week, Telkom was said to have filed an application asking a high court to review an invitation by regulator ICASA to participate in the auction, which outlines rules, spectrum bands and licence obligations.
MTN appears to be taking the regulator’s side: Reuters reported the operator stated while the current invitation is not perfect, “we believe the regulator has tried to strike a delicate balance for all players”. The operator filed court papers to oppose Telkom’s application.
Vodacom South Africa and MTN are keen for the auction to take place as quickly as possible.
Bloomberg quoted MTN as stating a successful spectrum auction “has the capacity to not only release much-needed funds into the national fiscus, but it will have an immediate impact on consumers”.
MTN also noted no additional spectrum has been added to the industry for 14 years.
ICASA was forced to put an auction scheduled to begin in March 2021 on ice after a court injunction following a legal challenge by MTN, Telkom and broadcaster e.tv. The regulator now plans to auction 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz frequencies in March 2022.
Telkom is currently arguing against the auction of sub-1GHz frequencies which are not available yet. It is also challenging the lack of clarity in licensing a controversial wholesale open access network ICASA intends to make available to all of the country’s operators.