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Comms minister to throw spanner in Telkom’s court action process

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Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says she will engage Telkom regarding an out-of-court settlement, after the telco applied for an interdict to challenge the spectrum auctioning process.

This week, Telkom confirmed it had filed an application asking the Gauteng High Court to review and set aside the invitations to apply (ITAs) for spectrum published by ICASA on 10 December 2021.

The application includes an urgent interdict to prevent ICASA from processing any applications until the review is heard.

Telecoms regulator ICASA was set to auction the much-needed spectrum in March last year, but Telkom, together with other telcos, approached the courts to challenge the process.

In a statement, Ntshavheni says she is taking legal advice and has expressed concern that the telco did not consult her department prior to launching the High Court bid.

“The minister of DCDT has noted the new court application by Telkom. This development happens without affording minister Ntshavheni an opportunity to resolve whatever concerns Telkom may have with the current ITA.

“The minister is taking legal advice and she will respond accordingly to Telkom’s court application. In the meantime, the minister will engage Telkom and all relevant parties with the aim to reach an out-of-court settlement and avoid further delays in the release.”

In a recent statement, ICASA expressed concerns that Telkom’s “selfish interests are highly regrettable”, given the authority’s commitment to expediting the auction and to delivering much-needed high-demand spectrum to the people of SA in March 2022 or as soon as it is practicably possible.

Ntshavheni further reiterates: “The conclusion of a process to release the IMT spectrum by 31 March 2022 is important for South Africa to reap the benefits of the digital dividend in the country’s quest for post COVID-19 pandemic economic recovery, job creation and transforming the country into a digital economy.”

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