MTN objects to Vodacom, Neotel deal; Vodacom to connect 250,000 homes/businesses to fibre network

14 Nov 2014

South African operator MTN has reportedly lodged an objection with telecoms regulator ICASA and the Competition Commission (CompCom) regarding rival Vodacom’s proposed acquisition of second national operator (SNO) Neotel, TechCentral reports. The alleged bone of contention is the transfer of Neotel’s spectrum assets to Vodacom; MTN is reportedly seeking to have the frequencies handed back to ICASA for reassignment. Ahmad Farroukh, chief executive officer of MTN SA, meanwhile confirmed the development by saying: ‘We have to do what is right’.

According to CommsUpdate, in May 2014 Vodacom agreed to acquire the smaller operator from its majority-owner Tata Communications of India for ZAR7 billion (USD676 million); the deal is currently open for public comments as part of the CompCom approval process. Neotel has 15,000km of fibre-optic cable, including 8,000km of metro fibre in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban and is authorised to use 2×12MHz in the 1800MHz band and 2×28MHz in the 3.5GHz band. If Vodacom’s takeover of Neotel is approved, it will also gain access to 2×5MHz in the 800MHz band, as the SNO is the sole operator authorised to use spectrum in the ‘digital dividend’ band for telecoms services.

Meanwhile, Vodacom’s CEO Shameel Joosub has revealed that the operator is planning to connect 250,000 homes and businesses to its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-business (FTTB) services within the next three years. BusinessTech reports that the telco is targeting 3,600 fibre connections by 31 March 2015 and has set aside roughly ZAR500 million for fibre deployments in 2015.