MTN has noted Telkom’s urgent application to interdict ICASA from proceeding with the 2021 Auction ITA and on Friday filed papers to oppose the application.
Spectrum is the lifeblood of the telecommunications industry and is the foundation upon which all voice and data services are delivered. The link between the growth of economies and the availability of broadband services is undeniable and, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution upon us, the need for expanded access to high-speed broadband has never been more important for South Africa’s people and its economic recovery.
While the current ITA is not perfect, we believe the regulator has tried to strike a delicate balance for all players. We cannot have a repeat of 2021, where the entire process was delayed for another full year, and that on the back of 14 years of no additional spectrum being added to the industry.
A successful spectrum auction has the capacity to not only release much-needed funds into the national fiscus, but it will have an immediate impact on consumers. The regulator’s allocation of temporary spectrum is evidence of this point, in that data prices have continued to fall, making data even more accessible. At MTN the extra capacity has meant we’ve been able to provide more than four million people access to free health and education websites each month, and we’ve been able to reach deeper into small towns and particularly rural communities, that were previously underserviced due to the lack of the required spectrum. Right now, 96% of South Africans have access to the internet through MTN’s 4G network coverage.
Throughout last year, MTN consistently worked with the regulator to avoid further delays in the spectrum process, hence the very narrow focus of the company’s 2021 court challenge, but the time for action is now.
“Spectrum is not just an industry issue, this is an issue for all our people and while there are certainly elements of the ITA that are a concern, we have to work together to best benefit the people of South Africa,” said MTN SA CEO, Charles Molapisi.
“We need to provide sustained data quality and speed but most importantly, continued reductions in the price of data. Spectrum is the key to this, and we need to collaborate now, with the regulator and all stakeholders, to unlock SA’s economic recovery,” Molapisi added.