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Telkom: Icasa is a Rogue Agency


Telkom Blasts Icasa: Spectrum Pooling Scam Exposed

In a scathing attack, Telkom has accused Icasa of being complicit in a spectrum pooling scam, giving rival MTN an unfair advantage in network performance. The allegations are the latest twist in a contentious battle over spectrum allocation in South Africa.

The Plot Thickens

Icasa’s alleged failure to engage stakeholders, including other mobile network operators, before approving spectrum pooling agreements between MTN, Cell C, and Liquid Intelligent Technologies has sparked outrage. The move has been described as a brazen attempt to undermine the regulatory safeguards woven into the spectrum auction process.

Spectrum Pooling: A License to Cheat

Telkom has argued that Icasa’s approvals were granted in secret, allowing MTN to trade spectrum without the knowledge or submission of other mobile operators. This, in turn, has given MTN an unfair advantage in network performance, threatening to distort the competition in the market and undermine the fairness of Icasa’s auctioning and assigning of high-demand spectrum.

Icasa’s Dirty Little Secret

The regulator’s correspondence with Vodacom suggests that Icasa interpreted the pooling arrangements between MTN, Cell C, and Liquid as a species of sharing of spectrum. But Telkom is having none of it, arguing that nomenclature should not be the focus of the analysis. What matters, they say, is whether these arrangements allow mobile network operators to access additional spectrum capacity they have not been formally licensed to use by Icasa.

A Recipe for Disaster

If Icasa’s approvals are not properly regulated, Telkom warns that these arrangements can undermine and subvert the outcome of spectrum auctions and other allocations, as well as the efficient, competitive, and fair use of spectrum in the public interest. The regulator’s failure to invite and consider written comments from mobile operators and other affected parties before approving the arrangements is a glaring example of its lack of transparency and accountability.

The Battle Rages On

As the high court case against Icasa continues to unfold, Telkom’s allegations have added fuel to the fire. The outcome will have far-reaching implications for the telecoms industry, with the potential to shake the very foundations of the regulatory framework in South Africa. One thing is clear: the war over spectrum allocation has only just begun.



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