South African semi-private telco group Telkom and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) today reached an out-of-court settlement bringing an end to the high court litigation over the licensing of the high-demand spectrum.

According to the settlement agreement, ICASA will commence with the licensing of the spectrum that remains unassigned in the auction by no later than 30 June 2022 with the licensing process set to be concluded within ICASA’s current financial year.

According to a press release, ICASA has undertaken that it will have regard for the outcomes of the recently completed auction, in its licensing of the unassigned 800 MHz.

According to Telkom Group CEO, Serame Taukobong, the settlement addresses Telkom’s principal complaints: the restrictions in the spectrum bidding rules and the competitive effect of spectrum arrangements on the auction process.

Telkom says that the settlement agreement gives challenger operators like itself further opportunity to acquire sub 1 spectrum to compete with established, much-larger telecom groups.

“Telkom has, in good faith, entered into a forward-looking settlement,” says Taukobong, “providing ICASA the opportunity to resolve current market challenges identified by competition authorities while allowing operators to focus on the business of providing superior service to their customers.”

ICASA has agreed to conduct a study on the impact of a possible secondary market of the spectrum on competition and, if necessary, provide an adequate and enabling regulatory framework.

All parties to the litigation will bear their own legal costs, according to the release.

“The settlement provides much-needed certainty to the sector,” Taukobong concludes.

Edited by Luis Monzon
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