ICASA to fight Telkom's lawsuit over auction of high-demand spectrum

Hanno Labuschagne

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ICASA to fight Telkom's lawsuit over auction of high-demand spectrum

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has said that it will oppose Telkom's court application against ICASA's forthcoming radio frequency spectrum auction.

ICASA issued an invitation to apply on 2 October 2020 for highly sought-after spectrum for cellular networks, especially 4G and 5G mobile data services.

Telkom filed a court application to challenge the process on 22 December. It named ICASA, Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Rain, Liquid Telecom, the Minister of Communications, the Competition Commission, the SABC, Sentech, and two industry representative bodies as respondents.
 

j4ck455

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Here's a question for Telkom: why did Telkom not raise its concerns publicly (like it is doing only now in the media) long ago?

I can understand Telkom not getting much or any response from the Incompetent Communications Authority of SA, but waiting until the last possible minute to launch a court case that is going to delay spectrum allocations and simultaneously bemoaning delays in spectrum allocation, sounds like a nonsensical and misguided Telkom delaying tactic.

According to Telkom’s head of regulatory affairs and government relations, Siyabonga Mahlangu, ICASA could still conclude the spectrum licensing process before the end of 2021.

“We could have the discussions in the first quarter and then spend Q2 and Q3 finalising the process,” Mahlangu said.
Maybe if Telkom's people weren't fast asleep on the job, there would not need to be yet another delay in spectrum allocations.
 

bixt

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While their concerns are probably legitimate, I don't feel sorry for them. This is the same Telkom who held us ransom for decades with monopolised ADSL. Good taste of their own k@k and now they going crying to mommy.
 

dominic

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Here's a question for Telkom: why did Telkom not raise its concerns publicly (like it is doing only now in the media) long ago?
to be fair to them they have raised most of their issues with the competition commission and icasa....its just that others have not agreed
 

j4ck455

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to be fair to them they have raised most of their issues with the competition commission and icasa....its just that others have not agreed
I have not read the whole of ICASA's ITA reasons document (just did a very quick cherry picking pdf search for Hz and IMT).

My understanding (purely based on the MyBB articles) is that Telkom's main complaint is that Telkom doesn't trust government to complete the sub 1GHz DTT migration since the SABC and Sentech continue to be analogue squatters, so Telkom wants the ITA halted until DTT migration is completed.

There's probably a lot more to it, but is that at least correct? If so, it is a valid complaint: no commercially viable company would want to bid and then pay ICASA loads of money for a licence to use spectrum that is currently heavily polluted and commercially unusable.

However, any company that wins the licence bid for sub 1GHz spectrum, would be insane to pay ICASA before the analogue squatters have been evicted, and refusing to pay before the eviction takes place should be quite an incentive for government to speed things up dramatically.

If ICASA decided to demand payment before the analogue squatters have been evicted, ICASA would be guilty of fraud and would spend a lot of time in various courts.

Delaying the ITA process through the courts seems unnecessary to me, unless Stella has instructed Telkom to take legal action against ICASA so she has more time to procrastinate over DTT. Given that a government controlled entity wants to take an enforcer of government policy to court, I would not be surprised if there is some truth to that.
 

dominic

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I have not read the whole of ICASA's ITA reasons document (just did a very quick cherry picking pdf search for Hz and IMT).

My understanding (purely based on the MyBB articles) is that Telkom's main complaint is that Telkom doesn't trust government to complete the sub 1GHz DTT migration since the SABC and Sentech continue to be analogue squatters, so Telkom wants the ITA halted until DTT migration is completed.

There's probably a lot more to it, but is that at least correct? If so, it is a valid complaint: no commercially viable company would want to bid and then pay ICASA loads of money for a licence to use spectrum that is currently heavily polluted and commercially unusable.

However, any company that wins the licence bid for sub 1GHz spectrum, would be insane to pay ICASA before the analogue squatters have been evicted, and refusing to pay before the eviction takes place should be quite an incentive for government to speed things up dramatically.
i think this is their stated main reason but basically they are concerned about competition outcomes (and this is a strong argument because the auction will define market structure for some time)

it is obvious that requiring payment for something that cannot be used should not be part of this process and ICASA - to the extent that it saying this - should change its position. no need to go through a court process....

at the same time it may still make sense to include this spectrum is the current auction rather than auctioning it separately later.....i.e. if you win the relevant lot now the licence is only issued when the spectrum is actually available and that is when you pay

resolving this issue will not make telkom's claim go away
Delaying the ITA process through the courts seems unnecessary to me, unless Stella has instructed Telkom to take legal action against ICASA so she has more time to procrastinate over DTT. Given that a government controlled entity wants to take an enforcer of government policy to court, I would not be surprised if there is some truth to that.
not sure exactly what is at play but this would not surprise me either.....inclusion of 3.5 GHz in this auction process always seemed to me like it was contrary to the minister's wishes....
 
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