Cell C ready to pay outstanding spectrum bill

Cell C is now in a position to settle the outstanding debt its owes communications regulator Icasa for spectrum fees flowing the March 2022 spectrum auction.

The mobile operator acquired 10MHz of bandwidth at 3.5GHz for R288-million, but has struggled to cobble the money together given the distressed state of its balance sheet.

“It was a liquidity issue. A portion of the amount has been paid and we are in discussions with Icasa regarding the balance,” said El Kope, interim chief financial officer at Cell C, in an interview with TechCentral on Thursday. “Icasa has been amenable in ensuring we resolve this.”

Kope was not prepared to divulge the amount still owed to Icasa.

MTN and Vodacom were the big spenders in the auction, coughing up R5.2-billion and R5.4-billion, respectively, for frequencies in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz bands. Telkom spent R2.2-billion; Rain R1.4-billion; and Liquid Intelligent Technologies R111-million.

Cell C, which last year underwent a further recapitalisation of its balance sheet led by largest shareholder Blue Label Telecoms, no longer operates its own radio access network – the expensive part of a telecoms network that connects end users – having outsourced this function to Vodacom and MTN.


According to CEO Jorge Mendes, Cell C’s post-paid customers roam on Vodacom infrastructure, while its prepaid users and mobile virtual network operator clients – a big business for Cell C – are supported by MTN’s infrastructure.

Read: Cell C’s best days are still to come: Jorge Mendes

Although Cell C no longer operates its own base stations, it still uses its own spectrum through its network partners.

Icasa did not respond to a request for comment.  – © 2024 NewsCentral Media

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