High Court blocks Icasa’s R12bn mobile internet spectrum auction

A top court in Pretoria has ruled that Icasa cannot go ahead with the auction of mobile internet spectrum.

Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The High Court in Pretoria has ruled that communications regulator Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) cannot go ahead with the auction of R12 billion worth of mobile internet spectrum.

Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele went to court to stop the spectrum auction, saying government had to first formulate a policy, before Icasa could go ahead with the process.

Cwele had said in court in he was concerned about the haste with which Icasa was proceeding with this process, after it took the industry by surprise by offering the spectrum for sale.

Cell C had joined Cwele in this action before a judge ruled today Icasa cannot go ahead.

TechCentral editor Duncan McLeod says disputes like this can risk further delaying the move to 4G broadband internet.

"Many countries in the rest of Africa are now pulling ahead of us in the allocation of spectrum. Nigeria, for example, recently allocated spectrum in those digital dividend bands."

Icasa says the judge found that an orderly process must be followed, that involves both the regulator and the government.