South Africa’s mobile networks have bid over R8 billion in spectrum auction

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has announced that South Africa’s mobile network operators have already bid R8 billion in its radio frequency spectrum auction.

Icasa also confirmed that the auction is not yet over and will continue on Monday, 14 March, at 09:00.

South Africa’s telecommunications industry regulator kicked off its auction for precious cellular network capacity on Tuesday with an exclusive “Opt-In” round.

The Opt-In round is governed by stricter rules and banned Vodacom and MTN from participating.

This allowed smaller players to acquire specific spectrum without bidding against South Africa’s mobile networking giants.

Only two companies could win during the Opt-In Auction. Telkom and Rain walked away victorious, bidding nearly R2.7 billion on three tranches of spectrum.

Liquid Intelligent Technologies elected not to bid, and Cell C lost.

The main phase of the auction began on Thursday.

Unlike the Opt-In round, which was a single-round sealed bid auction, the main stage is conducted as a simultaneous multi-round ascending auction.

Under this format, participants bid on all the available spectrum simultaneously. Bids are sealed until the end of the round, after which they are revealed to all bidders.

The main stage will end when bidders do not submit newer bids or waivers. Each bidder gets three waivers, which allows them to pass on bidding in a round while remaining eligible to bid in the next.

Icasa said it would make a public announcement after the conclusion of the main stage, including the winners for each lot and the amount they will need to pay.

“Generally, spectrum auctions of this nature can take weeks to clear,” Icasa noted.

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies

Icasa also announced that it would join the litigation between E-tv and communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.

“Icasa hereby announces that it has joined the litigation in support of the Minister to see this process concluded without further delay,” the regulator stated.

“Icasa has noted the switch-off date announced by the Minister; and is in full support of government’s commitment towards the implementation and completion of the digital migration process across the country.”

Ntshavheni announced last week that South Africa’s final switch-off date for analogue TV broadcasts is 31 March.

“South Africa has been lagging behind and this process must be concluded sooner rather than later and Icasa is calling on all broadcasters and stakeholders in general to support the conclusion of this process,” Icasa said.

The hearing is scheduled to occur next week, 14–15 March 2022.

Now read: Former Telkom CEO’s warning about 10GB free data

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South Africa’s mobile networks have bid over R8 billion in spectrum auction