Telkom gets date for review of spectrum auction - a month after proposed allocation

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The long-awaited auction of spectrum has been set down for 8 March.
The long-awaited auction of spectrum has been set down for 8 March.
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  • The spectrum auction planned for 8 March will likely be hampered by review proceedings set down for more than a month thereafter. 
  • The process of auctioning spectrum, the first in more than 14 years, has been delayed by litigation and bureaucratic red tape.
  • Telkom and other five companies have applied to take part in the auction.


Telkom's case against the communication regulator's allocation of spectrum has been set down for 11 to 14 April, more than a month after the proposed date for the auction.

The mobile operator wants a review of the decision by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to publish the Invitation to Apply (ITA) for the auction of broadband spectrum. The expedited review came after the company reached an agreement with other stakeholders to drop its application for an urgent interdict against the auction, in favour of the hearing.

The long-awaited auction of spectrum has been set down for 8 March. Telkom says the review "may have a material impact on the process and outcomes of the auction."

"As indicated by parties at the meeting with the Acting Judge President, the regulator, a respondent in this application, would now be expected to carefully consider the prudence of proceeding with the auction, mindful that the outcome of the hearing of Part B of Telkom’s application may have a material impact on the process and outcomes of the auction," said a statement.

Part A of the case, which has - for now at least - fallen away, included the application for an urgent interdict.

Telkom, which is the country's largest mobile communication company, stressed that it has always "reserved its rights to reinstate Part A of its application should this become necessary at any point".

The company, which is partly owned by the government, argues the design of the auction process issued by Icasa will entrench an uneven playing field in the telecoms sector.

The process of auctioning spectrum, the first in more than 14 years, has been delayed by litigation and bureaucratic red tape. The upcoming auction is expected to raise about R8 billion.

Last month, Icasa announced that Telkom, Cell C, MTN, Vodacom, Rain and Liquid Telecoms had applied to take part in the auction process, and qualified bidders would be announced on 21 February. 

The release of spectrum is expected to help companies roll out new generation technologies such as 5G and expand their services.

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