MTN allies itself with South Africa in the auction spar

The MTN Group reportedly resisted a lawsuit filed by Telekom South Africa to prevent the country’s communications regulator from holding a spectrum auction in March.

Last week, Telekom is said to have filed an application with a Supreme Court to review an invitation from the regulatory authority ICASA to participate in the auction, which outlines rules, frequency bands and license obligations.

MTN appears to be on the regulator’s side: Reuters reported that while the current invitation is not perfect, the operator stated “we believe the regulator has been trying to strike a delicate balance for all players”. The operator submitted legal documents to contradict Telekom’s application.

Vodacom South Africa and MTN endeavor to hold the auction as soon as possible.

Bloomberg quoted MTN as saying that a successful spectrum auction “has the ability not only to free much-needed funds into the national treasury, but also to have an immediate impact on consumers.”

MTN also noted that no additional spectrum had been added to the industry in 14 years.

ICASA was forced to put an auction, which should start in March 2021, on hold after a court order after MTN, Telekom and Sender e.tv were contested. The regulatory authority is now planning to auction the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz frequencies in March 2022.

Telekom is currently arguing against the auctioning of sub-1 GHz frequencies that are not yet available. It also questions the lack of clarity in licensing a controversial open access wholesale network that ICASA intends to make available to all operators in the country.

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