The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has announced that Telkom has withdrawn part of its court application against it.
“Following the recent media reports about Telkom launching a court application in respect of the Invitation To Apply (ITA) for high demand spectrum or International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) spectrum as well as the ITA for the Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN), the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) hereby informs all stakeholders that Telkom has decided to withdraw Part A of the court application,” the authority said in a statement.
“Part A of Telkom’s application was meant to compel the Authority to inform all parties who may have an interest in applying for spectrum licences through the International Mobile Telecommunications (Auction ITA) and the WOAN ITA of Telkom’s application.”
However, ICASA noted that Telkom is still proceeding with Part B and Part C of its application.
Telkom previously highlighted two key points in its court challenge against ICASA.
Firstly, the “digital dividend” bands of spectrum in the 700Mhz and 800MHz categories are not currently commercially viable, it said.
This is because broadcasters like MultiChoice, e.tv, and the SABC are still using those frequency bands for terrestrial television signals.
Secondly, Telkom argued that ICASA has not taken into account the lack of competition in South Africa’s cellular market.
ICASA said it remains committed to seeing this spectrum licensing process to its completion for the benefit of all South Africans.
“Our efforts are geared towards licensing the high demand spectrum through an auction by no later than the end of March 2021. We have adequately consulted relevant stakeholders and the public throughout this process and cannot do so to a point of regulatory paralysis,” said ICASA Chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng.
5G myths around COVID-19
ICASA also denounced conspiracy theories that linked the advent of 5G communications to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Authority continues to note media reports with regards to the deployment of the Fifth-Generation (5G) technologies and infrastructure and its purported relation to the spread of the novel coronavirus,” it said.
“The Authority would like to urge all South Africans not to be swayed by these conspiracy theories that are hell-bent on bringing instability and fear within the nation.”
ICASA noted that South Africa adheres to the relevant standards prescribed by both the ITU and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and it confirmed that type-approved electronic communications facilities provided in the country adhere to the prescribed standards and that there is no evidence that they pose any health risks to the country or citizens.
“We all need to rely on scientifically-based evidence and refrain from these baseless theories,” Dr Modimoeng said.
“Some of the frequencies earmarked and trialled for 5G deployment by industry players were previously assigned to various operators in South Africa – way before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in 2020.”
“Such fake theories can only cause despair and unnecessary technophobia among South Africans and must be strongly condemned,” he said.