At the beginning of 2021 we were filled with hope that perhaps South Africa’s spectrum licensing woes would be over. There was an invitation to apply to bid on spectrum and the process looked to be going smoothly.
Then in March the process hit a speedbump when Telkom, eTV and MTN approached the courts to implore the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to amend some aspects of the auction.
Many months later, Icasa says that ongoing settlement negotiations as regards spectrum litigation “are unfolding well and with a very encouraging outlook”.
Icasa chairperson, Keabetswe Modimoeng, says that he is confident all parties will resolve the matter before the end of August this year.
“We note and welcome the comments made by the President of the Republic on the current spectrum legal deadlock over the past week. We are, however, confident that, based on the discussions and concessions brought about by the parties, we should be in a good position to yield an amicable settlement agreement by no later than end of August 2021,” Modimoeng said in a statement.
Once a settlement has been reached, the chairperson says Icasa will only need a few weeks to set the spectrum auction process in motion and announce the new closing date for the Wireless Open Access Network applications.
“The Authority would like to finally advise that, even though its current preoccupation is to find a speedy resolution through the ongoing negotiations between litigants, the formalities in respect of the appeal process occasioned by the judgement of 8 March 2021 are still continuing in parallel as previously communicated. The outcome of the current settlement negotiations will, however, inform the future conduct of the appeal,” Icasa explained.
While we’re not closer to better 4G coverage and wider 5G rollout just yet, at least things are positive.
Here’s hoping the process is smooth from here on out and we don’t go another year with a spectrum shortage.
[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]