Spectrum Wars: Vodacom Challenges Icasa’s Alleged Secret Deals

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Spectrum Wars: Vodacom Challenges Icasa’s Alleged Secret Deals
Spectrum Wars: Vodacom Challenges Icasa’s Alleged Secret Deals

Africa-Press – Botswana. In a dramatic legal maneuver, Vodacom has taken the battle to the courts, aiming to halt MTN’s utilization of purportedly ‘secret’ spectrum pooling agreements sanctioned by the communications authority, Icasa, in June 2022.

Vodacom’s court application, disclosed by TechCentral, contends that these undisclosed arrangements, notably between MTN and Cell C, and MTN and Liquid Intelligent Technologies, have conferred an unjust competitive edge upon MTN, leaving Vodacom, Telkom, and Rain disadvantaged. The ramifications, Vodacom argues, are evident in independent network tests consistently favoring MTN.

Andrew Barendse, Vodacom’s managing executive for regulatory affairs, asserts that the heart of the matter lies in Icasa’s approval of spectrum ‘pooling’ without due transparency, contravening Electronic Communications Act provisions. Vodacom alleges that MTN’s superior network performance stems from its purported use of spectrum not lawfully licensed, effectively leveraging spectrum shared with Cell C and Liquid.

Vodacom further accuses Icasa and MTN of clandestine dealings, bypassing mandatory stakeholder consultations mandated by the Act. The use of spectrum ‘guard bands’, designated to prevent signal interference, is also contested, with Vodacom claiming Icasa’s approval of MTN’s use as unlawful.

Moreover, Vodacom argues that the pooling arrangement resembles a merger, necessitating consultation with the Competition Commission, an obligation allegedly ignored by Icasa.

In response, Vodacom insists that Icasa’s decision-making process should have undergone public scrutiny, prompting the legal recourse.

While Icasa and MTN remain silent on the matter, Vodacom’s action heralds a contentious chapter in the telecommunications landscape, where the allocation and use of spectrum wield substantial influence over industry dynamics and consumer experiences.

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