Telkom argued rivals Vodacom and Rain’s spectrum sharing agreement should be deemed as a merger, urging South African regulatory authorities to further investigate their partnership.
In a statement, Telkom revealed it approached the Competition Tribunal of South Africa “to declare the suite of spectrum arrangements between Vodacom and Rain as a merger that should have been notifiable in terms of the Competition Act.”
The operator stated the apparent merger should have been flagged, as the multiple agreements between the two grants Vodacom use and control over Rain’s deployment of spectrum, including the planning, rollout, maintenance and service of its RAN.
Telkom Group regulatory affairs and government relations executive Siyabonga Mahlangu, said Vodacom’s hold on Rain spectrum assets “entrenches its position as a dominant player in a highly concentrated market".
“It is important that the effects of spectrum arrangements on competition are scrutinised,” said Mahlangu. “Particularly, in light of the upcoming spectrum auction which will set the ground for the nature of competition in the mobile market for the foreseeable future”.
In a statement to Business Insider South Africa, Vodacom said its partnership with Rain had already been investigated by the Competition Commission and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) in 2018.
“The Competition Commission found that the 2018 agreements do not constitute a merger in terms of the Competition Act. Icasa found that the 2018 agreements are not in breach of the Electronic Communications Act.”
Vodacom added ICASA said the partnership aided Rain in becoming more competitive by expanding its wholesale and retail mobile broadband.
Rain chief marketing officer Khaya Dlanga echoed Vodacom, stating giving access to its roaming services had been investigated by the regulatory bodies above.