MTN quietly scores controversial spectrum

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has issued MTN with a radio spectrum license to use the frequencies in the 2,010–2,015MHz band, a spokesperson for the regulator said.

MTN intends to use the spectrum for its “non-line-of-sight small-cell backhaul solution,” said Icasa.

Icasa was responding to a question MyBroadband put to it after hearing rumours that MTN had received the spectrum it applied for during 2013.

Its application resulted in public hearings on 19 August 2013, where Vodacom, Cell C, Neotel, and Smile Communications all registered objections to MTN receiving the spectrum.

MTN’s local rivals indicated at the time that it would put them at a disadvantage, with Cell C going so far as to say that the application was “surprising” and “procedurally irregular”.

Smile Communications told Icasa in its objection at the hearing last year that it had been waiting since 2009 for the regulator to process its own spectrum application.

Icasa’s spokesperson said that these objections were taken into account with all other submissions regarding the spectrum, adding that it should be noted that no-one else applied for this part of the spectrum.

“The first-come, first-served criteria was used,” Icasa said. “It should be noted that Vodacom was also assigned 5MHz in the same band on receipt of their application.”

Icasa was satisfied that the correct process was followed.

Asked about the lack of public notice, the spokesperson said this was not a license amendment, adding that Icasa does not publish radio frequency licence amendments in the Government Gazette.

“This was an additional licence for backhaul which operators apply for from time to time,” Icasa said.

MTN was asked about its plans for the new spectrum, but had not answered at the time of publication.

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MTN quietly scores controversial spectrum