The proposed fiber merger of Vodacom and Community Investment Venture Holdings (CIVH) has moved a step closer after the South African regulator Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) approved the transfer of Dark Fibre Africa's licenses to the mobile operator.
However, the deal remains subject to approval from the Competition Commission.
ICASA has approved applications by CIVH-owned Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) to transfer the ownership and control of their I-ECS and I-ECNS licenses to Vodacom, from December 1, reports Reuters. An ECNS license enables companies to deploy and operate a physical network.
The proposed fiber merger follows a deal between Vodacom acquiring a strategic stake in CIVH last year.
In November of last year, Vodacom said it would pay 6 billion rand ($337.5 million) in cash and certain fiber assets valued at 4.2bn rand ($236m) for a 30 percent stake in a newly formed company called MAZIV.
MAZIV holds Community Investment Ventures Holdings' (CIVH) Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) fiber assets, and if approved Vodacom will transfer its fiber assets to MAZIV.
"We view the transaction as unlikely to negatively impact the market while making the transferee an effective player in the market. Additionally, the Authority views the proposed transaction to be in the best interest of the public," said ICASA's Councillor Luthando Mkumatela.
It means that Vodacom will expand its fiber footprint in South Africa, with Vumatel boasting a network that passes more than 1.2 million homes, and covers over 31,000kms across the country.
Meanwhile, open-access fiber infrastructure connectivity provider DFA operates a national metro fiber network that covers 13,000kms.