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Vodacom Exposed: The Telecom Giant’s Illicit Grab for Spectrum


Icasa and Vodacom in Ugly Spectrum War: Chaos Reigns as Regulation Bodies Fight for Control

Icasa chairman Mothibi Ramusi
Icasa chairman Mothibi Ramusi

Vodacom has sparked chaos in the telecommunications industry by taking aim at Icasa chairman Mothibi Ramusi for his role in approving spectrum pooling agreements between MTN, Cell C and Liquid Intelligent Technologies. But in his fiery response, Ramusi accused Vodacom of using weak legal arguments and attempting to sabotage Icasa’s efforts to regulate the telecoms sector.

**Ramusi Rips Apart Vodacom’s Legal Case**

In his affidavit to the high court, Ramusi accused Vodacom of deliberately avoiding legal action for two years, then suddenly seeking an urgent interdict to stop MTN from using spectrum pooling arrangements. “Vodacom has always been lethargic in its approach,” Ramusi charged. “Vodacom cannot seek an urgent court intervention after a period of two years has lapsed.”

Vodacom’s claim that the spectrum pooling agreements gave MTN an unfair advantage in network performance is seen by Ramusi as an admission that the company was aware of MTN’s superior network performance as early as the latter part of 2022, meaning Vodacom had from that moment begun to suffer the alleged harm.

Yet, Ramusi pointed out that Vodacom did nothing to stop MTN’s alleged illegal behavior, only deciding to take action when the data showed that its network was consistently outperformed by MTN.

“Vodacom also provided the court with data showing that, at least from August 2023, it had conducted tests to support its notion that it was suffering from the alleged harm,” Ramusi noted sarcastically. “But, for reasons best known to Vodacom, it never bothered to approach the court or the complaints and compliance committee (CCC) of Icasa in terms of section 17C of the Icasa Act by lodging a complaint.”

Ramusi also slammed Vodacom for addressing matters that are not in the high court’s jurisdiction, specifically the issue of spectrum guard bands and the transfer or cession of spectrum, which Ramusi said are matters for Icasa’s CCC to decide, not the high court.

**The Ugly Spectrum War**

The squabble between Icasa and Vodacom has sent shockwaves through the telecommunications industry, with many operators forced to re-evaluate their business strategies and operating costs. The battle over spectrum is seen as a zero-sum game, with each operator trying to get the upper hand in the market.

But beneath the surface, the conflict highlights deep-seated issues within Icasa, with many calling for greater transparency and accountability within the regulatory body.

As the dispute between Icasa and Vodacom continues to unfold, one thing is certain: the future of the telecommunications sector is shrouded in uncertainty, leaving many wondering what the next move will be.



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