Wireless Business Solutions (WBS), the parent company of wireless broadband operator, iBurst, is yet to pay Vodacom (VOD) for the use of its WiMAX network. This fee could be in the region of R40 million, annually, according to two well-placed industry sources.
According to one source, the non-payment may be related to the fact that the deal is yet to be signed-off since it began commercial operation in 2008.
WBS announced, in May 2008, that it had successfully deployed its 802.11e WiMax network, with the commercial launch taking place in August that year.
Vodacom said it was contracted by WBS to build the network, after iBurst was originally issued with WiMAX spectrum by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) in July 2006.
Janine Rebelo, executive head of access services from Vodacom Business, told BusinessTech: “At this stage we are not at liberty to comment on details pertaining to the infrastructure rental agreement, apart from stating that Vodacom are in discussions with WBS on this matter to resolve certain issues.”
Vodacom stressed that it had not entered into any licence agreements with WBS, with respect to utilisation of spectrum – “this action would constitute a contravention of regulatory requirements”.
Sheila Silindile Bhengu, head of marketing at iBurst said: “Negotiations are still on the table around this.”
Vodacom originally owned a stake in WBS, but sold its 24.9% share in the group towards the end of 2010.