MTN set for court battle with Telkom over spectrum


Africa’s biggest wireless carrier MTN has mounted a legal challenge against Telkom in a bid to prevent further delays in South Africa’s long-awaited release of additional broadband spectrum.

MTN filed court papers on Friday seeking to oppose Telkom’s attempt to halt the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) from auctioning spectrum in March, it said in a statement. 

The auction is seen by the government as a critical structural economic reform needed to revive the country’s coronavirus-battered economy by unlocking investments in broadband and lowering data costs.

‘Immediate impact’

“A successful spectrum auction has the capacity to not only release much-needed funds into the national fiscus, but it will have an immediate impact on consumers,” said MTN, adding that no additional spectrum has been added to the industry for 14 years.

MTN and South African market leader Vodacom have long called for more spectrum to expand their data services and boost revenue.

While the plan was approved in October, Telkom this week filed an urgent court application to prevent the auction. It opposes Icasa’s decision to include sub 1 Gigahertz spectrum in the auction as that frequency is currently subject to a separate legal challenge.