Telkom withdraws spectrum interdict application against Icasa

Telkom’s Siyabonga Mahlangu

Telkom has requested the high court in Pretoria to remove its urgent application to interdict communications regulator Icasa over the upcoming spectrum auction from the roll.

The move, which is a significant development in the process of licensing long-awaited broadband spectrum in South Africa, comes after Telkom wrote to respondents in its litigation earlier this week proposing that the merits of the matter be heard urgently instead.

By seeking an interdict, the risk was that Telkom would have set back the licensing process, possibly by years. It’s not clear whether political pressure was brought to bear on Telkom – its interdict application was opposed by communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. Telkom said earlier this week that it’s move was based on the urgency of spectrum allocation after many years of delay.

“Telkom has reached agreement with all the respondents on the need to expedite the hearing for part B of Telkom’s two-part application,” Telkom said in a statement on Friday. Part A dealt with the interdict and had been set down for a court hearing next Tuesday. That now won’t proceed.

However, the company said in the statement that it “reserves its rights to reinstate the matter on short notice should it become necessary”.

Telkom has proposed the merits of the matter be heard from 1-4 March. It’s understood that Vodacom, one of the respondents, has proposed that the matter be heard in April. Ultimately, it’s up to the court to decide the date based on the availability of judges.

Sticking point

“Telkom is pleased with the cooperation it has received from the parties on this revised timeframe and expects the regulator to proceed mindful that the outcome of hearing of part B of Telkom’s application will have material impact on the auction process,” said Telkom regulatory affairs and government relations head Siyabonga Mahlangu in the statement.

That last point, could, however, prove to be contentious as Icasa has told Telkom and the respondents to the litigation that it intends proceeding with the timetable for the spectrum auction, which means it would still be held in early March.

With a separate but related eMedia Holdings court matter on digital television migration filed against the minister only to be heard from 8 March, and the Telkom case possibly only to be heard in April, Icasa may, however, have no choice but to postpone the auction by a few months or run the risk of Telkom again going to court to seek an urgent interdict to stop the auction process.  – © 2022 NewsCentral Media

Now read: Breakthrough in spectrum auction? Telkom set to withdraw interdict

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