DTPS takes ICASA to court over LTE spectrum auction

9 Aug 2016

South Africa’s Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) has filed an application with the High Court in Pretoria to block the proposed auction of LTE-suitable spectrum in the 700MHZ, 800MHz and 2600MHz bands, which was launched by telecoms regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) last month, TechCentral reports. The ministry said that the decision to halt the proceedings ‘has become necessary in order to prevent irreparable harm which unsuspecting interested parties may suffer in the licensing process which this court could ultimately find unlawful’, as the proposed auction would prevent the entry of new players in the wireless broadband sector. The authority also said that ICASA should wait for the publication of the government’s spectrum policy – which is expected to be approved by the end of the year – before launching the Invitation to Apply (ITA) process.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in July 2016 the ICASA issued an ITA for spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz and 2600MHz bands to all interested parties wishing to provide wireless broadband services. The regulator said that awarding frequencies in the aforementioned bands would ensure nationwide broadband access for all citizens by 2020, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) and the South Africa Connect Policy. The auction for the spectrum lots – which will come with a reserve price of ZAR3 billion (USD210 million) each – is expected to start on 17 January 2017 and end on 30 January 2017.