Icasa to hear Sentech, Screamer dispute
The dispute over Screamer Telecommunications’ alleged unlawful use of radio frequency spectrum owned by state-owned broadcasting signal distributor Sentech is finally coming to a head, with the complaints and compliance committee of the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) set to hear the matter early next year.
Screamer, Sentech and Icasa are scheduled to hold a “pre-briefing conference” in the next few weeks to discuss how the dispute will be handled by the committee. Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka says it’s likely the complaints committee will hold a formal hearing in February.
News of the hearing comes six months after Icasa and the SA Police Service raided Screamer’s Centurion head office and two satellite offices, seizing wireless communications equipment and company documents. This follows complaints from Sentech that Screamer was “the source of significant radio interference”.
Maleka says there has been “an exchange of letters” between Sentech, Screamer and Icasa. He says the pre-briefing meeting will take place to address, among other issues, concerns by Screamer that some of the documents seized during the raids on its offices were “confidential”.
A well-placed source, who asked not to be named, told TechCentral at the time that Icasa has evidence that Screamer, an Internet service provider, was continuing to use Sentech’s spectrum with permission. Screamer operates a WiMax network.
Sentech has 50MHz of spectrum in the valuable 2,6GHz band but has left it fallow for years after its MyWireless Internet access network failed commercially. Former senior managers at Sentech signed a dodgy deal allowing Screamer (then Global Web Intact, or GWI), to use the spectrum.
This contract was later torn up, with former Sentech chairman Quraysh Patel declaring to parliament last year that the agreement was illegal. Controversial former SABC chairman Eddie Funde is said to have benefited financially by helping broker the spectrum trading deal between GWI and Sentech. Sebiletso Mokone-Matabane was CEO of Sentech at the time.
Maleka says the complaints committee is continuing to investigate the matter. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral
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