Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


SA operators bid $176M for spectrum, with more to come

Article Image
The first part of South Africa's 4G and 5G spectrum auction has already raked in bids of almost R2.7 billion (US$176.3 million), with more to come as the main auction kicks off today.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) confirmed via a statement that the successful bidders for the opt-in auction, which took place on March 8, 2022, were Rain and Telkom.

"Even though there were four bidders who were eligible to bid, only three bidders submitted valid bids, namely Cell C, Rain Networks and Telkom," the authority said.

Rain will be allocated 2x10MHz of 700MHz spectrum and 1x10MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum for R1.15 billion ($76.4 million) while Telkom will get 2x10MHz of the 800MHz spectrum band for 1.5 billion ($99.9 million).

Winning bids for spectrum opt-in auction
(Source: ICASA)
(Source: ICASA)

South Africa has been waiting for over a decade for more high-demand spectrum to become available. ICASA intends to auction spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands in two phases.

Tuesday's "opt-in auction" was the first part, and only tier-2 operators were eligible to participate which excluded SA's two biggest operators MTN and Vodacom.

Liquid Telecom was eligible, but it seems it did not submit a valid bid, while Cell C's bid was not chosen.

Online auction begins

On Thursday, the "Main Stage" event begins and all six qualifying companies – Cell C, Liquid Telecom, MTN, Rain, Telkom and Vodacom – are expected to take part via an online auction platform.

"The licensing of this spectrum through an auction has major economic and social benefits for our country, especially during this time when the economy is emerging from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic," said ICASA Chairperson Dr. Keabetswe Modimoeng in a statement.

"This process provides a critical stimulus for economic recovery and has the potential to stimulate employment by leveraging on ICT networks and digital platforms to deliver economic value for the South African society," he added.

Following the conclusion of the Main Stage, ICASA will conduct an in-person assignment phase with all qualified bidders. This is an administrative process to determine the frequency assignment position of the lots won in both auction parts.

Want to know more about 4G and 5G in Africa? Check out our dedicated 4G/5G content channel here on Connecting Africa.

ICASA also said it had noted the latest developments in the review application filed by Telkom where it asked the high court to impose a "structural or supervisory" interdict on ICASA.

"The Authority reaffirms its position that there is currently no legal impediment to the auction proceeding," it said, adding that Telkom had in fact emerged as a winning bidder in the opt-in auction.

"The Authority remains committed to successfully completing the auction and will strongly oppose all efforts aimed at undoing the economic and social gains arising from the process," ICASA added.

Related posts:

*Top image source: Mehadi965 on Pixabay.

Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


InDrive enters Zimbabwe's Bulawayo

Ride-sharing platform InDrive is expanding its services to Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo after successfully introducing its services in the capital of Harare in May this year.


Five African healthtech startups to watch

Connecting Africa has compiled a list of five African healthtech startups that have been making an impact in the lives of the communities they serve and are worth keeping an eye on in 2023.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Sponsored video

More videos

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Africa Tech Perspectives


The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.


Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.


Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

Nextv Series Africa
October 4-5, 2023
Hotel Sky Sandton, Johannesburg
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Flash poll

All polls

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: August 2023

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in August 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included a commercial 5G launch from Ethio Telecom and the signing of a virtual wheeling agreement between Vodacom South Africa and Eskom – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up
Tag id I-0000192