Spectrum auction halted pending hearing over Telkom, e.tv’s demands
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JOHANNESBURG - THE HIGH court yesterday ordered the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to halt an auction of radio frequency spectrum licences pending a hearing of contentions raised by operator Telkom and broadcaster e.tv.
The ruling is a setback for mobile operators MTN and Vodacom, which are seeking to expand their 4G capacity and roll out 5G technology.
As part of the court order, Icasa has been prohibited from assessing or making a final decision on any applications for the licensing of high-demand spectrum, court papers show. This will further delay a process that was expected to begin this month.
Telkom and e.tv had approached the court, seeking to halt and review the invitation to the bid process and auction until their demands were met.
Their demands, which are yet to be heard by the court, include ordering Icasa and the communications minister to first complete the migration of broadcasting services to digital from analogue by June 30 to ensure certain radio frequency bands used by broadcasters are fully available for use by mobile operators that wish to acquire them.
Judge Selby Baqwa of the high court in Pretoria also suspended the closing date for submission of applications for the licence to operate a wireless open access network.