Communications regulator Icasa will challenge a court application by Telkom seeking to halt the auction of high-demand spectrum licences seen as a key pillar of attracting new investment.

Allocation of high-demand spectrum is vital to expanding broadband services, especially 5G, in South Africa, where the high cost of telecommunications is a barrier to doing business.

“They actually want to stop the whole process for licensing spectrum,” Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka said. TechCentral first reported the news about the Telkom lawsuit on Tuesday.

The invitations for the wholesale open-access network, or Woan, and commercial high-demand spectrum for mobile operators such as Vodacom Group, MTN Group and Telkom — three of the biggest telecoms service providers in South Africa — were issued on 2 October.

Icasa said it received the court application on Tuesday in respect to the call for submissions for both the Woan and high-demand spectrum.

“The authority is currently reviewing the court application and has engaged its legal representatives to oppose the court application,” Icasa said in a statement.

It said applications for the international mobile spectrum remain open until 28 December, and has so far not been affected by the court case.  — Reported by Wendell Roelf, (c) 2020 Reuters