MTN SA MD Karel Pienaar has scotched rumours that the mobile operator is in talks to buy Wireless Business Solutions (WBS), the parent company of wireless operator iBurst.
Pienaar tells TechCentral that MTN has held exploratory discussions with iBurst, but an acquisition is “highly unlikely”. He says the operator is talking to a number of industry players, including Sentech, about getting access to additional spectrum. It’s also engaging with the Independent Communications Authority of SA about the issue.
MTN is keen to build a national broadband network using next-generation wireless technology called long-term evolution (LTE).
“Spectrum is really critical in the lifeblood of our business and for LTE we are looking for more spectrum,” Pienaar says. “We are speaking actively to the regulator and to other operators that have spectrum.”
iBurst has an allocation of spectrum in the 1,8GHz band, which is the same band that MTN is using to pilot its LTE network in the Gauteng region.
“I absolutely am speaking to iBurst,” says Pienaar. “Is it the only one? Absolutely not.”
He adds that he does not expect anything “material” to flow from the discussions with iBurst. “It’s highly unlikely there will be an acquisition.”
An iBurst executive said on Thursday that the company had been approached by more that one “interested suitor”, sparking speculation that it is in play. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral
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