The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) said on Monday all six applications it had received from telecom firms have qualified to participate in a radio frequency spectrum auction, a process slowed by years of legislative delay.
Icasa, South Africa’s telecoms regulator, said the qualifying bidders are MTN, Vodacom, Telkom, Cell C, Rain Networks and Liquid Telecoms.
"We can officially proclaim the forthcoming March 2022 spectrum auction as an unparalleled milestone in our country's communications history as this will be the first-ever spectrum auction held on our shores," Keabetswe Modimoeng, chairperson of Icasa, said in a statement.
Operators have waited for years for Icasa to release spectrum licences that are needed to lower data costs, roll out 5G and add network capacity as data demand has surged and smartphone adoption continues to grow.
But the spectrum auction has been stalled by legal challenges that threaten to further delay the auction.
Icasa will conduct a bidder seminar on February 28, followed by mock auctions from March 1 to 3 with the individual bidders.
Thereafter, the auction stage will commence on March 8, with the main online auction taking place from March 10, the regulator said.