After weeks of dispute and clashes, Telkom has retracted its lawsuit against the communications regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), over the recently held spectrum auction.
Telkom’s withdrawal in court is a major win for the Minister of Communication Khumbudzo Ntshavheni and the regulator. It indicates that the recently held spectrum auction will not have to be redone.
Both parties (Telkom and ICASA) agreed to settle out of court, provided that the regulator began the licensing process of spectrum in the 800MHz band, which was not allocated in the last spectrum auction and should be done by June.
In a statement released by Telkom, they mention that the regulator has indicated that it will regard the results of the recently completed auction in its licensing of the 800MHz band.
“ICASA should conclude the band’s licensing within the current financial year by 31 March 2023,” said Telkom.
On the other hand, ICASA indicated that it will license the mobile-suitable spectrum available for licensing, except for the spectrum set aside for a WOAN (Wholesale Open-Access Network) that the government plans to remove.
Serame Taukobong, Telkom’s CEO, mentioned that the settlement acknowledges Telkom’s fundamental complaints: the confines of the spectrum bidding rules as well as the competitive effect of spectrum agreement on the auction process.
He further stated that the settlement agreement allows Telkom and other operators more chances to obtain the sub-1GHz spectrum to contend with well-established operators.
Telkom has entered into the settlement agreement in good faith, allowing the regulator a chance to sort out current market issues identified by competition authorities to provide their customers with the best service.
According to ICASA, Telkom will research the impact of a potential secondary spectrum market on competition and provide the regulator with an adequate framework.