Johannesburg – Telkom is seeking an urgent court order to prevent the telecommunications regulator Icasa from holding a spectrum auction in March, which would further delay the introduction of 5G in the country and the expansion of 4G capacity, which has already been retained by legal proceedings.
Operators have waited more than 15 years for Icasa to issue the spectrum licenses needed to reduce data costs and add network capacity as data demand has grown and smartphone adoption continues to grow.
A previous court ruling after separate complaints from Telkom, e.tv broadcasters and MTN groups prevented the auction of the high demand spectrum from the Independent Communications Administration last year. South Africa (Icasa) will be held until the end of March.
Telkom said on Wednesday that it had submitted a request asking the Gauteng High Court to reconsider and annul the call for applications, which lists auction rules, spectrum ranges and licensing obligations, which Icasa announced last month.
The report includes an emergency ban to prevent Icasa from processing any report until it is heard, the statement said.
In court documents seen by Reuters, Telkom considered the auction process illegal, illegal, irrational and unreasonable given that the call was “tainted by a series of verifiable errors”.
These errors include auctioning a frequency band below 1 Gigahertz (GHz) when it is not yet available and is the subject of a legal challenge launched by e-tv, similar to the objections raised by the company last year.
Telkom says that the outcome of the court proceedings scheduled for the March 14 hearing will have a material impact on the availability of spectrum in this range.
Telkom also tackles the lack of clarity about time in the licensing of the wholesale open access network, which refers to one large network available to all mobile operators so that they do not have to build their own infrastructure.
“If allowed to stand, (the call) will have lasting negative consequences for the mobile market, including, but not limited to, strengthening the anti-competitive structure of the mobile phone market,” the court documents said.