Icasa announces qualified bidders for high-demand spectrum auction

The end of what has become a long, drawn out process as regards the allocation of high-demand spectrum, is approaching. At least it is in this moment right now.

We’re tempering our expectations because we’ve been down this road before only to have the entire process of issuing invitations to apply and the auction process that follows upended.

On Monday morning, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) announced the names of the bidders that qualify to participate in the auction phase of the ongoing licensing process for high-demand spectrum.

The six qualified bidders are:

  • Cell C
  • Liquid Telecoms
  • MTN
  • Rain Networks
  • Telkom
  • Vodacom.

“The fact that all six applicants have qualified illustrates the robustness of our telecommunications sector in South Africa. We can officially proclaim the forthcoming March 2022 spectrum auction as an unparalleled milestone in our country’s communications history as this will be the first ever spectrum auction held on our shores,” Icasa chairperson, Keabetswe Modimoeng, said in a media statement.

All six bidders will now take part in a seminar being hosted on 28th February. Thereafter a mock auction will be held from 1st to 3rd March.

After that the auction stage will commence on 8th March 2022 with the in-person single round opt-in auction. The main online auction shall take place from 10th March 2022.

However, Telkom’s qualms with Icasa aren’t over.

As it stands, Telkom’s application to review Icasa’s decision to publish the invitation to apply for spectrum has been set down to be heard on the week of 11th April.

Why Icasa is forging ahead with this new auction is unclear especially as Telkom made it known that the results of the hearing “may have a material impact on the process and outcomes of the auction”.

The wheels are now in motion but we’re still weary. To be clear, Telkom is simply following a process and it is fully within its rights to follow this process. We just hope Icasa isn’t jumping the shark here, South Africa really needs access to this high-demand spectrum and further delays are untenable at this stage.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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