Mobile operators are sceptical that Telkom’s announcement that it is willing to withdraw its urgent application to prevent the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) from issuing spectrum will result in an expedited process.
Cell C, Vodacom, MTN, and ICASA, are engaging their legal teams to understand better the latest developments and ramifications for the forthcoming spectrum auction.
Telkom said it is willing to withdraw its urgent application to prevent ICASA from issuing spectrum from the court’s roll if the parties to the case are sympathetic to an expedited review of its concerns with the licensing process.
The application is divided into two parts. Part A of the application asks the court to urgently suspend the invitation to apply issued last month while the court considers part B of the application, which focuses on the merits of Telkom’s arguments against the licensing process.
“If the parties agree to an expedited review of part B, Telkom is willing to remove part A of its case from the court’s roll. On the premise that the review is heard before the spectrum auction process is completed, or if ICASA is willing to delay the auction completion dates to await the court judgment,” Telkom said in a statement.
Cell C, Vodacom, and MTN were irked by the court action, which they believe is causing further delays in spectrum allocation. The three mobile providers are unconvinced that this strategy will expedite the release of spectrum.
According to Cell C’s chief legal officer, Zahir Williams, “the withdrawal of the interdict application does not ensure a smooth spectrum auction and licensing process. In addition, delays are not in the best interests of customers or competition.”
Similarly, Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy stated that the mobile provider is dedicated to working with all stakeholders in the sector to ensure a fair and successful spectrum auction process.
The first telecom to oppose the court application, MTN, says it is consulting with Telkom to better understand the ramifications of their latest stance.
ICASA, which has been under pressure to allocate spectrum, is also consulting with lawyers on Telkom’s proposal.