During the auction, held last March, Cell C successfully bid R288-million – the second least of all the operators participating – for a 10MHz sliver of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band.
The Sunday Times, quoting “several sources” it doesn’t name, said it wasn’t able to solicit comment from either Cell C or Icasa over the alleged non-payment. TechCentral has asked Cell C for comment on the report and will update this article if and when feedback is received.
It is not clear whether the company is using the 10MHz of spectrum allocated to it in last year’s auction.
MTN and Vodacom were the big spenders in that auction, coughing up R5.2-billion and R5.4-billion, respectively, for frequencies in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands. Telkom spent R2.2-billion; Rain R1.4-billion; and Liquid Intelligent Technologies R111-million.
Cell C, which last year underwent a further recapitalisation of its balance sheet led by largest shareholder Blue Label Telecoms, no longer operates its own radio access network – the expensive part of a telecoms network that connects end users – having outsourced this function to Vodacom and MTN.
This is by design, as it minimises Cell C’s capital expenditure requirements – as the industry’s fourth largest GSM operator, it couldn’t afford to keep up with capex investments made by its bigger rivals.