A much-delayed auction of 4G and 5G spectrum in South Africa attracted broad support, with communications regulator ICASA revealing it received applications from six operators.

ICASA stated the local units of MTN and Vodacom were among the bidders, along with Cell C, Telkom South Africa, Rain Network and Liquid Telecom. The regulator will announce which have qualified to participate on 21 February 2022.

Spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz frequencies are up for grabs to boost 4G and 5G deployments in the nation.

The auction was originally scheduled for March 2021 but was put on ice following legal challenges which appear to still be in play despite the application process proceeding.

ICASA chair Keabetswe Modimoeng urged operators to allow the latest process to be completed. “Ultimately, public interest should prevail, as this process will yield positive spinoffs for the industry and society at large.”

Telkom South Africa appears to have dropped plans for a court challenge to the auction process, but is said to remain keen on a legal review of its arguments, proposing this happen early in March.

Last month the operator’s group executive for regulatory and government relations Siyabonga Mahlangu stated Telkom was “pleased with the cooperation it has received from the parties”.

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