The Internet Service Providers’ Association (Ispa) on Thursday called for mediation, rather than litigation, to resolve the stand-off between communications regulator Icasa and telecommunications operators over the looming spectrum auction.
Both Telkom and MTN South Africa have sued the regulator for different reasons. Telkom is seeking an interdict to stop the process while its concerns are addressed. A judgment is expected imminently, while court date must still be set to hear the merits of Telkom’s arguments. MTN, meanwhile, wants the auction to go ahead, but wants the rules changed around how 5G-suitable spectrum in the 3.5GHz band is awarded. MTN believes it is being unfairly prejudiced. The high court in Pretoria will hear the matter on 9 March.
“All South Africans should be concerned that litigation is threatening to delay — once again — a more accessible and affordable communications future,” Ispa said in a statement. “Telkom, e.tv, MTN and Vodacom have all taken issue with Icasa’s invitation to apply and approached the courts for relief.”
E.tv is supporting Telkom’s application, while Vodacom has filed a notice of counterapplication in the MTN case.
“Ispa understands that this is a critical commercial inflection point for the operators and that this is driving the litigation, but there is a point at which narrow commercial interests should give way to the greater good,” it added. “Ispa therefore supports calls for mediation and other initiatives designed to bring these disputes to a swift conclusion.” — © 2021 NewsCentral Media