There has been much to-ing and fro-ing in the media about Icasa’s decision to put spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 2.6 GHz bands up for auction – and the government-appointed regulator has had enough of it.
Yesterday the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele voiced his displeasure about the auction, and even announced his intention to launch into legal action over it.
Icasa said in a statement that it noted the concerns from the Minister and his intended legal action, but has no intention of addressing the Minister’s stance on the matter in the media.
“[Icasa] has no intention to enter into a media debate with the Minister or any of the stakeholders about the correctness of its decision, suffice to say that the Authority believes that it has, in making this decision, adhered to all the requirements as prescribed in terms of the current applicable laws,” it said in a statement today.
It cautioned that it will only respond to the Minister’s action at a time which it feels is appropriate.
“In this regard, ICASA will only respond in detail at the appropriate time and upon being served with court papers in relation to the contemplated legal challenge,” it said.
On the flip side of the spectrum coin, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Marian Shinn has urged the Minister to re-think his actions.
“I have written to Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, urging him to abandon his legal action to stop the high-demand spectrum auction by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa),” she said.
She added that: “Icasa’s bold step to issue the invitation to prospective bidders came after 10 years of dithering on the spectrum policy by successive ANC communications ministers over how it was best to allocate the high-demand spectrum to ‘new’ entrants to the telecommunications sector.”
In conclusion, Shinn laid the blame for the current spectrum situation at the feet of previous Communications Ministers.
“The reasons why successive communications ministers have delayed the issue of policy and the assignment of spectrum have never been clear. But what is certain is that repeated delays by politicians are negatively impacting the empowerment, through ICTs, of all South Africans – particularly the marginalized communities – and is a major hindrance to the economic growth and job creation potential of South Africa,” she concluded.