Minister to approach Telkom over spectrum litigation

Communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

Communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni will approach Telkom with a view to reaching an out-of-court settlement so as not to delay the planned spectrum auction in March.

Telkom’s decision to take communications regulator Icasa to court earlier this week for the second time over the release of much needed “high-demand” spectrum has earned the company a stinging rebuke from the regulator.

TechCentral reported on Tuesday that Telkom had once again filed papers at the high court in Pretoria seeking an urgent application to stop the licensing process from proceeding.

The minister will engage Telkom and all relevant parties with the aim to reach an out-of-court settlement

Telkom wants the process reviewed on an urgent basis, arguing that, despite weeks of in-depth discussion with industry players – including Telkom – the invitation to apply, or ITA, remains flawed.

“The authority is not surprised by Telkom’s relentless resort to litigation, the conduct stretching back seven years or more ago,” Icasa said in a strongly worded statement.

“Telkom appears hellbent on stalling the authority’s every effort to licence the high-demand spectrum that the sector, country and our economy so badly needs,” it said.

Legal advice

Now Ntshavheni has weighed in, saying Telkom did not afford her the opportunity to resolve “whatever concerns” the company “may have with the current invitation to apply” to participate in the auction.

“The minister reiterates that the conclusion of a process to release the spectrum by 31 March 2022 is important for the country to reap the benefits of the digital dividend in the country’s quest for post Covid-19 pandemic economic recovery, job creation and transforming South Africa into a digital economy.”

The department of communications & digital technologies said Ntshavheni is taking legal advice and will “respond accordingly to Telkom’s court application”.

“In the meantime, the minister will engage Telkom and all relevant parties with the aim of reaching an out of court settlement and avoid further delays in the release of spectrum,” the department said.  – © 2022 NewsCentral Media, reporting with SANews