No sooner has number three South African operator Telkom tried to stop the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) from holding a spectrum auction in March than the number one operator has got involved – on ICASA’s side.
Reuters reports that MTN Group has declared itself opposed to a recent court application by rival Telkom.
As we reported last week, Telkom has attacked the legality of the auction process and has said that the Invitation to Apply (ITA) is “tainted by a number of reviewable errors”.
This isn’t the first legal hold-up the process has faced. Earlier attempts to auction high-demand spectrum were stymied by legal objections from Telkom, broadcaster e.tv, and MTN Group last year.
It does seem, however, that MTN has decided that enough is enough after this, the latest in a very long line of issues holding up a planned 4G and 5G spectrum sale. In fact it has been quite blunt about this, saying: "While the current ITA is not perfect, we believe the regulator has tried to strike a delicate balance for all players." The company adds that it has filed court papers to oppose Telkom's application.
ICASA itself has called Telkom's application "narrow and selfish".
As for what will happen next, that seems to be anybody’s guess. However, it still looks like the country's first spectrum auction in more than 14 years will have to wait a little longer.