South Africa’s Telkom wants the High Court in Pretoria to impose a “structural or supervisory” interdict on the country’s communications watchdog, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA).
“A structural or supervisory interdict is justified in the circumstances of this case,” Telkom regulatory affairs boss Siyabonga Mahlangu said a filing to the High Court lodged on Monday.
Telkom is challenging ICASA’s spectrum auction process, which started today.
Earlier last month, Telkom asked the High Court to review and set aside ICASA’s plan to issue a new spectrum via an auction that had been slated for March, citing a number of flaws in the proposal.
Telkom’s court action has been met with fierce opposition from MTN and Vodacom, as well as communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
Yesterday, ICASA said it stands ready for the much-anticipated and long-awaited auctioning of the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) – also referred to as the high demand – spectrum, starting today.
This auction process follows the recent announcement of six (6) qualified bidders for the auction.
The radio frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 2600 MHz, and 3500 MHz bands is made available through this licensing process for the purposes of providing national broadband wireless access services to all South Africans.
Telkom is one of six participants in the auction.
In court papers, Mahlangu argued that since 2010, ICASA has proven that it is unwilling to conduct the licensing spectrum lawfully.
“The licensing of spectrum is important for South Africa’s economy and general public interests.”
Telkom said additionally, in its interpretation of the September 2021 Court Order, ICASA
has proven that it is not willing to comply with this Court’s order.
“Thus a structural or supervisory order would ensure that ICASA does not adopt an opportunistic interpretation of this Court’s order to avoid complying with its statutory and constitutional obligations,” said Mahlangu.
“A structural or supervisory order would not be intrusive because it would
merely direct ICASA to comply with its positive obligations, which are clearly
stipulated in the applicable regulatory framework.”
Mahlangu added that ICASA’s continued failure to comply with its obligations has resulted in an unnecessary delay in the licensing of spectrum. “It is just and equitable for this
Court to intervene in the circumstances.”
The High Court is expected to hear Telkom’s application from 11 to 14 April.
“The hearing will occur approximately a month after the auction. The bidders would not have begun to commit to original equipment manufacturers and order equipment by the time the application is heard and hopefully judgment is granted,” Telkom claims in the court papers.