MTN files lawsuit to challenge regulator over 5G spectrum sale in SA

*MTN Group Limited alleges the company and rival Vodacom are being shut out of bidding for the most appealing 5G bandwidth in South Africa

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

For fear of being shortchanged in the impending bidding process, MTN Group Limited has taken a legal action against the terms of a highly anticipated auction of new broadband spectrum by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.

Africa’s largest wireless carrier has alleged the company and rival Vodacom Group Limited are being shut out of bidding for the most appealing 5G bandwidth, Bloomberg report said.

The telco has asked the High Court, in Johannesburg, to correct or set aside elements of the process set to begin in less than two months, according to legal documents.

MTN fears that by the time it is allowed to take part in bidding, there will not be any of the most prized elements left.

The company in an e-mailed statement Friday, January 29, 2021, noted that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s structure of the auction leaves MTN with “no option but to seek relief from the courts.”

Meanwhile, observers believe the telco’s move threatens to delay, or even kill the release of spectrum that’s been called for by South Africa’s telecom operators for several years, as it is seen as a way to boost the country’s moribund economy.

It is as well noted that previous attempts to hold the auction have been scuttled by disputes between the government and regulator over how it should be conducted and who should most benefit, elements that are central to MTN’s case.

MTN and Vodacom are regarded as the two largest mobile-phone companies in South Africa, and the telecommunications ministry has in the past said that operators with no access to spectrum should be given the opportunity to enter the market and boost competition.

That may also encourage smaller businesses to take part, helping to address inequality concerns, report stated.

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