Positive Response from South African Operators Amid Auction

After many delays, South Africa has high hopes of finally being able to auction spectrum, while it seems that the countries’ operators are now keen to get involved in the process.  

As such, reports note that there have been six applications for the so-called high-demand spectrum. Telecoms regulator ICASA received applications from MTN, Vodacom, Telkom, Cell C, Rain Networks, and Liquid Telecom.   

ICASA said, “In terms of the published timetable for this licensing process, the Authority will announce the qualified bidders on 21 February 2022. This will mark the next critical milestone in the effort of the Authority to finally release this much-needed economic stimulus input.”  

According to Statista, the statistic shows the market share of mobile network operators in South Africa from 2011 to 2019. In 2019, Vodacom accounted for 42.4 percent of mobile subscribers in South Africa.  

In addition, this process has been a long one that could reach its final stages when the auction takes place in March this year. The country’s end users have long been frustrated by how growing data demand has not matched spectrum availability. The added spectrum would also offer increased network capacity that could bring down prices.  

While demand is not likely to slow down anytime soon because smartphone prices fall, data usage – notably in areas like streaming, which is seen as an essential market for broadcast platforms – will grow.  

The matter on hold nowadays is accelerating the roll-out of 5G and expanding 4G capacity because of the threat of legal challenges to the auction.  

In particular, Telkom has, for now, withdrawn its threat to prevent ICASA from processing any applications until after a review of the regulator’s invitation to apply.  

In 2019, mobile penetration reached 95 percent, while the mobile market in South Africa is controlled by four cellular providers: Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom (Mobile), which Telkom runs. While Vodacom and MTN control 75 percent of the market share, ICASA considers mobile brand services highly concentrated in the country.