Icasa’s spectrum auction will help in catch-up of broadband rollout

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), which regulates the country’s telecoms sector, kicked off the first phase of a three-stage auction process for high-frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 2600 MHz, and 3500 MHz bands last week, generating R14.4bn for the state.

Rivals Vodacom and MTN put in bids for more than R5bn each on the main auction stage, making the two-largest network operators in the country the biggest spenders.

The move marks the first time in 17 years that ICASA has made a significant spectrum allocation. It also takes place six years after the initial auction, which was mired in political dispute and side-tracked by legal wrangling.

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