ICASA slammed by latest raid victim

The operations director of the latest company raided by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has told the regulator to get its own house in order before bringing down more networks.

The offices of Amatole Telecommunications Services (Easttel), in the Eastern Cape, were raided yesterday (Wednesday) morning as ICASA appeared to step up its efforts to collect unpaid spectrum license fees.

Shortly after ICASA entered the building waving a police search warrant, Easttel were able to get the warrant declared invalid by the High Court and their equipment which had been taken and sealed returned.

There was some interruption to services, but they were restored on Wednesday night.

Speaking to HumanIPO, Mark Gray struggled to hide his anger at ICASA. He said: “Clearly one part of ICASA does not know what the other part is doing.

“They clearly are not taking into account the consumer. Over and above that they simply don’t respond to letters that we write to them.”

Gray said they had recognised in communication with ICASA that they owe fees and were in the process of applying for new licences, but the authority were not good at responding.

HumanIPO reported last month Broadlink managing director Mike Brown had been left bemused when ICASA raided the offices of Wireless Business Solutions which supports their iBurst network.

In that instance ICASA again had to back down after losing out in the courts and only yesterday Cell C publicly blasted the regulator over claims it too owed fees.

ICASA claims it is owed around ZAR501 million (US$55.6 million) in unpaid fees, with half of it supposed to be coming from the army and police.

The list of those supposedly owing money to the authority include high profile players such as Neotel, Vodacom and MTN.

When asked why ICASA do not appear to be putting pressure on the bigger companies, Gray added: “It is about going after the smaller players.”

ICASA and Easttel will meet in the high court on May 29 unless an out of court settlement is reached.

Gray said they would be seeking damages, but the company wanted the issue resolved as quickly and as amicably as possible.

Posted in: Telecoms

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