Communications regulator Icasa has vetted and approved all six companies that have bid to take part in next month’s radio frequency spectrum auction for mobile broadband services.
Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Cell C, Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Rain have all successfully qualified to take part in the auction, which Icasa hopes to hold next month despite pending litigation by Telkom against the process that the regulator has followed in licensing the spectrum.
Icasa issued an amended invitation to apply, or ITA, on 10 December 2021, inviting industry players to bid to participate in the auction. They had until 31 January to file their submissions.
“All six applications have passed the pre-qualification stage of the licensing process and can now participate in the planned auction stage at the beginning of March 2022,” Icasa said in a statement on Monday.
“The fact that all six applicants have qualified illustrates the robustness of our telecommunications sector in South Africa,” said Icasa chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng.
“We can officially proclaim the forthcoming March 2022 spectrum auction as an unparalleled milestone in our country’s communications history as this will be the first-ever spectrum auction held on our shores.
“We commit ourselves to discharge this vital public-interest mandate to the very best of our abilities as we continue to confront the ongoing litigation head on,” Modimoeng said.
“With only two weeks remaining, we need to see selfless and responsible corporate citizenship at play,” he added. This is in apparent reference to Telkom, which has threatened to reinstate its application for an urgent interdict if it feels in any way aggrieved by Icasa’s decisions.
Telkom, which had been seeking an urgent interdict to stop the licensing process from proceeding, last month decided not to pursue that application, instead seeking to have the high court hear its grievances on their merits. The matter will now be heard in mid-April, after the auction has been concluded.