Murky motives continue to stifle business in South Africa
The spectrum in question lies in the 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands, with 2.6GHz particularly in demand for internet services. If the process of issuing it takes long enough, however, it could well be overtaken by lower-frequency bands that will become available as analogue terrestrial television transmitters are switched off in favour of digital TV. But of course that process too has been delayed, amid fights about standards and allegations of heavy-handed “input” by Nyanda. And guess which regulatory body is in charge of that fiasco?
SHOOT: Business needs to confront this mischief and trickery in the courts. Of course who is going to fast track the courts? Not this government.
So did Nyanda express a strong preference for smaller companies to be sold the spectrum rather than have it in the hands of MTN or Internet Solutions? Was protecting Sentech, the ridiculously incompetent state-owned signal distributor with a long history of ministerial favours, part of the motive? Despite a ritualistic invocation of the need for transparency, Icasa isn’t providing anything with the remotest resemblance of a straight answer.
The regulator is firm on two important points: it will not dilute the strict empowerment-ownership requirements for those who wish to buy the spectrum (which are causing the usual headaches) and it will issue a new official invitation to apply before the end of the financial year, which implies an auction well before the end of 2011.