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Spectrum Sold to the Highest Bidder: We’re Next?


MultiChoice Group: A Greedy Giant Demands Spectrum Monopoly

In a shocking display of corporate greed, MultiChoice Group, the JSE-listed broadcasting behemoth, has petitioned the communications regulator Icasa to reserve the entire spectrum below 694MHz exclusively for broadcasters, effectively shutting out mobile operators and stifling innovation.

This brazen attempt to monopolize the airwaves comes as the regulator reviews the digital migration regulations of 2012, and just as mobile operators are finally starting to reap the benefits of the digital dividend. The plea is part of a submission to Icasa, which will hold public hearings on Friday.

MultiChoice, which owns DStv, M-Net, and GOtv, claims that digital terrestrial television (DTT) can still thrive in South Africa, despite years of setbacks. But what’s really driving their demand for a spectrum monopoly? It’s not about providing better services to consumers; it’s about maintaining their stranglehold on the broadcasting industry.

The company’s submission to Icasa is riddled with half-truths and exaggerations. They claim that sufficient spectrum is needed to support HD channels and 5G broadcasts, but what they really want is to stifle competition and prevent mobile operators from offering innovative services.

In reality, the digital dividend has already been released for mobile operators, and "dual illumination" is set to end soon. This means that the full batch of spectrum earmarked for DTT can now become a reality – but only if Icasa caves in to MultiChoice’s demands.

The consequences of granting MultiChoice’s plea would be catastrophic. It would limit the amount of bandwidth available for mobile operators, stifling innovation and progress in the telecommunications sector. It would also create a regulatory environment that favors the interests of a single corporation over those of consumers and the broader economy.

As the public hearings approach, it’s crucial that Icasa and stakeholders reject MultiChoice’s attempt to hijack the spectrum. The regulator must prioritize the interests of consumers and the telecommunications sector, rather than caving in to the whims of a greedy giant.

The stakes are high, and the outcome will have far-reaching consequences for the future of broadcasting and telecommunications in South Africa.



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