iBurst network safe from Icasa: WBS

The networking equipment of Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) – which operates iBurst – is not in danger of being confiscated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) again, a company spokesperson said.

The feedback echoed an earlier statement from the WBS CEO, Thami Mtshali, following a judgement handed down by the Johannesburg High Court that found that Icasa’s seizure of WBS networking equipment was legal.

WBS said in a statement on Tuesday, 22 April 2014, that it would appeal the judgement.

Icasa confiscated the equipment of WBS/iBurst in 6 different data centres on Wednesday, 3 April 2013, saying that it had adopted a hard-line approach to non-payment of radio frequency license fees.

However, at the time, WBS said that it was still in the middle of negotiations with Icasa regarding its outstanding fees and had not even received a proper invoice from the regulator before it attached its assets.

This lack of accurate bills for outstanding spectrum and licensing fees from Icasa is a widespread concern in South Africa’s telecommunications sector, industry insiders have said.

Icasa’s seizure of WBS/iBurst’s networking equipment caused some panic in the industry, with a number of operators worried that the regulator might try to take down their equipment in the middle of a fee dispute or negotiation.

Following the seizure, WBS obtained an interdict to force Icasa to return its equipment and prevent the regulator from further interfering with the provisioning of WBS’s services.

This interdict, dated 5 April 2013, remains in force for a period to allow WBS to launch an appeal to the High Court ruling which found in favour of Icasa, Mtshali said.

He added that he hopes the dispute can be solved speedily and guaranteed that WBS business will continue as usual.

WBS will also continue to pursue “a more amicable and lasting solution” to its dispute with Icasa, the network operator said in its statement.

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iBurst network safe from Icasa: WBS