Industry regulator in South Africa – the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) – announced on Tuesday 08th March 2022 that Rain and Telkom were the successful bidders in the first round of broadband spectrum auctions, having paid a combined total of more than US$170.2 million.

Cell C, Liquid Telecoms, Rain Networks, and Telkom were among the smaller companies called “tier 2” who participated in the spectrum auction, the first in more than a decade.

Telkom paid US$98.2 million for its bands, and Rain forked out US$72 million.

“This morning, history was made,” stated ICASA chairperson Keabetswe Modimoeng. In this round, just two winning bidders are possible, according to Modimoeng.

The provision of additional spectrum is expected to help deploy 4G and 5G technologies.

The main auction will take place on Thursday, with all six qualified companies, including tier 1 providers Vodacom and MTN, submitting offers.

The auction is expected to bring in US$523.7 million, according to ICASA. The frequency bands will be available starting in June.

The auction will occur, despite Telkom’s legal review of the procedure, which will be heard next month.

Telkom is requesting that the auction be ruled void. The company, which the government partly owns, claims that ICASA’s design of the auction process will perpetuate an unequal playing field in the telecoms sector.

It claims that ICASA is unwilling to execute spectrum licensing legitimately in a response affidavit filed this week in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

The authority stated that it had “complete faith in this licensing process,” which it believes will result in more investment in broadband infrastructure and economic growth for the country.

ICASA said it is dedicated to “completing the auction and will vigorously oppose all initiatives aimed at undermining the process’s economic and social gains.”

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