South Africa’s Telcos Back MTN as Rival Seeks to Halt Spectrum Auction

MTN Nigeria test runs 5G in Calabar

MTN South Africa said in a statement on Friday that it opposed a court application by rival Telkom SA seeking to stop a spectrum auction, in order to prevent further delays to a process that has been bogged down in bureaucratic and legislative mazes for years.

The country’s third largest telecoms company Telkom requested an urgent court order on Wednesday to prevent ICASA from holding a spectrum auction in March, saying the process was unlawful and illegal.

Having won a court order last year forcing the regulator to restart its auction process and delay it until March, Telkom’s move may delay the deployment of 5G and expanding 4G capacity that is vital for lowering data costs and allowing access to digital services.

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“While the current ITA (Invitation to Apply) is not perfect, we believe the regulator has tried to strike a delicate balance for all players,” Africa’s biggest telecoms company, MTN, said in a statement, adding that it had filed court papers to oppose Telkom’s application.

ICASA on Wednesday censured Telkom’s application calling the move “narrow and selfish”.

ICASA was set to auction the spectrum last year, but Telkom and MTN objected, delaying what would have been the country’s first spectrum auction in 14 years.

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