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Spectrum auction raises more than R8bn, says regulator

11 March 2022 - 20:29 By Thabiso Mochiko
Icasa says the ongoing spectrum auction had so far raised R8bn. Stock photo.
Icasa says the ongoing spectrum auction had so far raised R8bn. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/CITADELLE

The telecom regulator said on Friday the ongoing spectrum auction had so far raised more than R8bn.

On Tuesday, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) raised just over R2.65bn from Telkom and Rain, who successfully bid for spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 2,600MHz bands. 

This was the first round of the auctioning of the much-needed spectrum, which has been delayed for more than a decade due to a number of court cases and also policy and regulatory changes.

Spectrum is a finite resource that is key to accelerating the rollout of superfast technologies and bridge the digital divide by offering similar quality of services to the rural areas.

The second round of the auction, which includes MTN and Vodacom, started on Thursday and is expected to continue on Monday. Other companies that are participating in the auction are Cell C, Rain, Telkom, and Liquid Intelligence.

On Friday, Icasa said in a statement that, generally, spectrum auctions of this nature can take weeks to clear. “However, the authority will announce the winning bids attained by each bidder at the end of the auction stage,” it said. 

This is the first time Icasa is auctioning the spectrum.

The regulator said on Monday that “operators have been spectrum constrained for a long time and the authority has complete faith in this licensing process in that this much needed stimulus output will translate into greater investment in broadband infrastructure and economic growth for the country”.

Chairperson of Icasa Keabetswe Modimoeng said: “This process provides a critical stimulus for economic recovery and has the potential to stimulate employment by leveraging on ICT networks and digital platforms to deliver economic value for the SA society.”

The process is facing litigation from Telkom, which is unhappy about the way the auction is structured and the inclusion of the spectrum being used by the broadcasters. The case will be heard in court in April.

Legal action has also been taken by e.tv against minister of communications and digital technologies Khumbudzo Ntshavheni over the deadline for the migration to digital broadcasting from the old analogue platform. The move is critical as it will result in the release of the spectrum used by broadcasters. The case will be held next week Monday and Tuesday. 

Icasa said it has joined the litigation in support of the minister to see this process concluded without further delay. 

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