Telkom wants spectrum to be released – But where it goes must be decided by economic growth

Telkom’s primary concern when it comes to spectrum is that it must be released.

Who it is released to, however, must be decided by the economic growth needs of the country.

The statement from Telkom follows an open letter from Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko to President Cyril Ramaphosa, in which Maseko asked for the release of radio frequency spectrum.

The letter stated that if spectrum is made available, the economy will benefit substantially. The letter did not state that the spectrum must be made available to mobile operators specifically, or to Telkom.

Maseko’s letter follows a statement from Openserve CEO Alphonzo Samuels in March 2018, where Samuels called for all unassigned spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.6GHz, and 3.5GHz frequency bands to be assigned to the government’s planned wholesale open access network (WOAN).

Spectrum release

To clarify Telkom’s stance on spectrum, and where it must be allocated, MyBroadband spoke to the company about its view on the matter.

A Telkom spokesperson stated that they support the swift release of spectrum, but how spectrum is assigned “must be informed by the country’s long-term economic growth”.

“Telkom is agnostic on the specific method of assignment that the government and the regulator wishes to use in assigning spectrum, as long as the chosen method addresses the concerns of high levels of concentration in the mobile market, their adverse impact on competition, and the ability to enable sustainable economic growth in a digital economy,” said Telkom.

It said the current Integrated ICT Policy states that all unassigned high-demand spectrum must be licensed to the WOAN in order to address the “high barriers to entry” in the mobile market.

“It is true that the mobile market is highly concentrated and that the upstream inputs constitute the highest barrier to entry and the ability of smaller operators to compete,” said Telkom.

Telkom also provided its analysis on how the envisaged WOAN can be configured to address these high levels of concentration, in recent public hearings on the matter.

“The purpose of the public hearings was not to revisit its determination that all high-demand spectrum be assigned to the WOAN. Telkom emphasised that a weak WOAN was doomed to fail,” it said.

Now read: Vodacom vs MTN in Potchefstroom

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Telkom wants spectrum to be released – But where it goes must be decided by economic growth