SA: Telkom and Rain Win Spectrum Auction First Round

A journalist uses his mobile phone to take a picture of the 5G logo prior to the auction of spectrum for 5G services at the Bundesnetzagentur head quarters in Mainz, Germany, March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

South Africa‘s telecommunications operators Telkom and Rain Networks have won the first round of the country’s frequency spectrum auction, spending a combined 2.7 billion rands on low-frequency bands used in indoor coverage.

Government-backed Telkom agreed to pay 1.5 billion rands for two chunks of 10MHz in the 800 MHz band while Rain will pay 1.2 billion rands to secure two 10 MHz channels on the 700 MHz band and one 10 MHz in the 2.6 Gigahertz band. Both operators are accessing frequencies below 1 GHz for the first time which is critical to the provision of better internet services in underserved and rural areas, as well as better indoor coverage as it is able to penetrate building walls and underground structures.

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Telkom and Rain beat out Cell in the opt-in round and will now compete against South Africa’s two biggest operators, MTN and Vodacom at the main auction stage on March 10. According to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, there were four bidders who were eligible, only the three submitted valid bids.

Operators have waited for over fifteen years to acquire spectrum licences that are needed to achieve lower data costs, commence 4G and 5G services as the process was delayed by several years of legislative delay, ICASA added.

​​This week, Telkom postponed the listing of its mast and towers business, citing the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has cast a shadow on global financial markets. Swiftnet was meant to be listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange by the end of 2022, but the initial public offering (IPO) has now been delayed until further notice. 

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