You might have heard that, despite some efforts on the part of Telkom, there’s a spectrum auction happening in SA. And the internet provider might be pleased about that. Telkom, along with ISP Rain, have both won a significant portion of the so-called “digital dividend” band. But it wasn’t cheap.
For its two 10MHz sections of the 800MHz band, Telkom entered (and won) a bid of R1.5 billion. Rain secured three 10MHz chunks of its own — two in the 700MHz band, and one in the 2.6GHz band. It’s paying R1.15 billion for that access, so the company arguably got the better deal.
Make it, Rain
And, as TechCentral points out, it’s the first time that either operator will have access to frequencies below 1GHz. Those frequencies are most useful in urban areas, where Rain, in particular, has battled to uphold its promises in times of heavy traffic. Their successful bids should lead both internet providers to offer better services in built-up areas since those sections of the spectrum perform better when faced with obstacles.
But there’s still more to come from South Africa’s long-awaited spectrum auction. There were limited qualified bidders for Tuesday’s round, which was a single-bid system. This Thursday, there’s a far more exciting session planned.
Rain, Cell C, Telkom, Liquid, MTN, and Vodacom will all be eligible to bid in the main auction, which kicks off at 9 AM tomorrow morning. Bids will close at 5 PM, provided the competition hasn’t chickened out by then, and the result could well change the face of internet access in South Africa.
If, that is, Telkom’s court action doesn’t derail the entire process. Even following a successful auction, it’s possible that the courts will throw the whole thing out and make ICASA start over again. Telkom’s objections to how invitations to participate were structured might see any purchases, even Telkom’s, voided and the whole process begun again. And that wouldn’t be fun for anyone, now would it?