The ICASA spectrum launch hasn’t been a smooth road and it’s about to get a little bumpier. MTN has filed an application in the Gauteng High Court to force a review of two decisions made during the auction process.
ICASA already has a court application from Telkom to respond to which also highlights two specific grievances with their process.
However, MTN and Telkom differ on their issues as both are fighting from a different perspective and position in the process.
MTN has highlighted the classification of the six spectrum applicants into Tier 1 or Tier 2. They object to this as Tier 1 applicants are being excluded from part of the spectrum auction, specifically the opt-in round.
MTN and Vodacom are the only two service providers classified under this tier. This excludes them from bidding on the 3,500MHz band, which is the most effective for 5G use.
It objects as this means that the Tire 2 operators, Telkom, Cell C, Rain, and Liquid Telecom, have access to purchase what will be the most lucrative band in the near future.
Besides for seeing this as a hindrance to their 5G roll-out, the provider explained that removing their access to this band makes it more difficult to lower data prices which they claim the increase in spectrum will allow them to do.
ICASA appears to have set up this structure as a way to try level the playing field as MTN and Vodacom are significantly more powerful than the other four applicants.
The goal of the network provider is to have the auction move ahead without the Tiers and opt-in portion.