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


Hot startup of the month: Rwanda's Smart Ikigega

This month's hot startup, Smart Ikigega, wants to revolutionize the rural agricultural trade ecosystem in Rwanda by helping farmers access finance and harvest insurance.


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.

More Innovation hub

Sponsored video

More videos

Flash poll

All polls

Latest video

More videos

Africa Tech Perspectives


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.


Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: June 2022

By Omdia Analysts

5G was the major news trend across Africa in June, as Orange became the first operator to launch 5G in Réunion and operators in Senegal accelerated their 5G plans despite spectrum delays.

More Guest Perspectives

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up