MTN has filed papers in the high court in Pretoria seeking to stop communications regulator Icasa from taking back temporary spectrum at the end of November, joining Telkom in taking legal action over the issue.
The papers, filed on Friday, are in support of Telkom’s application, which was filed last week. MTN has also launched action of its own challenging aspects of the decision.
MTN’s decision to join Telkom in suing Icasa comes two days after the regulator dug in its heels, saying it would fight Telkom in court over the spectrum withdrawal decision.
Telkom said on 6 October that it would take Icasa to court to stop the planned withdrawal of the spectrum, which was issued due to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying the move would disrupt the provision of services and harm consumers.
Icasa originally made the spectrum available on an emergency basis in April 2020 to interested licensed operators. It extended the allocation of the temporary spectrum on several occasions. However, it said on 31 August that it intended to withdraw the spectrum on 30 November 2021 as it was never meant to be licensed in perpetuity.
The regulator said it was worried that extending the granting of the spectrum indefinitely would distort the market and was unfair to licensees that chose not to apply for it back in 2020. It also suggested it was no longer needed as many people had returned to their offices and were therefore no longer placing extra demands on mobile networks.
In his founding affidavit to the high court in Pretoria, Telkom group executive for regulatory affairs and government relations Siyabonga Mahlangu said the “rationale and need for temporary spectrum persist”.
“Should Icasa not be directed to extend the licensing of temporary radio frequency spectrum or refrain from requiring current holders of licences to cease using their licences, it will have a significantly prejudicial effect on Telkom, other mobile operators, the greater public and the functioning of the national economy,” Mahlangu said in the affidavit. – © 2021 NewsCentral Media