Mobile Services

MTN Is Seeking Extension Of Temporary Spectrum Licences In South Africa

According to BMA's sources, the MTN Group has responded to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) verdict not to extend temporary licences for spectrum beyond 31 May 2021, saying this will be detrimental to South Africans.

Jacqui O'Sullivan, the Executive for Corporate Affairs for MTN Group South Africa, said that the decision not to extend the spectrum would result in the degrading of network performance; therefore, it should be avoided at all costs for the benefit of the nation's citizens. "MTN is paying to use the temporary spectrum, and the amount is at the discretion of ICASA", said O'Sullivan.

In response, ICASA said that the temporary spectrum licences were given to the mobile network operators as part of COVID19 disaster regulations. The purpose of the temporary spectrum was to enable operators to deal with the anticipated rise in internet demand due to the lockdown regulations. Additionally, the temporary allocation was for network operators to enhance their current services.

Resulting from the court cases brought about halt of the spectrum auction, ICASA said it did not wish to extend the temporary radio spectrum licences.  In a statement, the Authority said that it did not want to lengthen further the set expiry date of the temporary spectrum licences beyond 31 May 2021.  The decision is due to the issues raised in the pending litigation and the interim interdict granted against it.

O'Sullivan said that MTN had submitted several motivations to ICASA, supported by evidence of the benefits for consumers on the use of the temporary spectrum. South African's other mobile operators have declined to comment regarding ICASA's intention to stop the extension of temporary spectrum licences.

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