Telkom has accused communications regulator Icasa of expropriating its radio frequency assets in its allocation of emergency temporary spectrum to operators last week to provide relief during the national Covid-19 crisis.
The company has told TechCentral that Icasa allocated spectrum in the 2.3GHz band on a temporary basis that it already has exclusive rights to. It has raised a formal objection with the regulator about the decision.
“The emergency regulation does not give Icasa the right to expropriate currently assigned spectrum,” Telkom said. “We hope to be able to reach an amicable agreement with them on this soon.”
Icasa has confirmed to TechCentral that it has received a complaint in this regard from Telkom. “The authority is still applying its mind on the matter and will be able to provide a detailed response in due course; and following a formal response having been issued to Telkom,” it said.
Last Friday, Icasa announced that it had allocated temporary spectrum to Telkom, MTN, Vodacom, Rain and Liquid Telecom to help the operators deal with increased network demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It assigned spectrum blocks in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.3GHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands – the same frequencies it intends auctioning off later this year. The operators may be able to use this spectrum until 30 November, by which time Icasa is expected to have concluded or be near to concluding the planned spectrum auction.
Hot under the collar
But it’s the 2.3GHz allocations that have Telkom hot under the collar and accusing the regulator of expropriation of its assets. Though Icasa awarded Telkom an additional 20MHz in this band – in addition to the 60MHz it already has access to – it also allocated 20MHz to rival Vodacom.
Telkom said 27MHz of the 40MHz allocated under the temporary spectrum rules was already assigned to it and was therefore not available for allocation.
It explained that it has 60MHz in the 2.3GHz band assigned to it for mobile telecommunications. In addition to this, it said, it has been assigned 2 300-2 360MHz and 2 307-2 387MHz paired with 2 401-2 481MHz for providing point-to-multipoint communication services.
“These are used by Telkom to provide basic electronic communications services on a national basis,” it said. “The 60MHz used for IMT2300 (mobile broadband) and the 27MHz is used for PTMP-TDMA with approximately 3 000 radios on it.”
PTMP-TDMA is short for point-to-multipoint time-division multiple access and is a wireless communications technology that provides one-to-many connections to end users. – © 2020 NewsCentral Media