On 17 August 2006 the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) published its Regulations regarding the provision of Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) services.
These regulations, which were written under the guidance of then ICASA councillor Mamodupi Mohlala (now the national consumer commissioner), were widely criticized by industry players as unenforceable and essentially a waste of time.
Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) simply ignored the ADSL regulations, and ICASA is doing absolutely nothing about it. In fact, the ADSL regulations have become something of an embarrassment for the regulator.
When faced with questions about the ADSL regulations, ICASA either ignores the issue or tries to sidestep talking about the problems with regulations.
The problems with the regulations are clearly illustrated by the requirement for ISPs to publish regular ADSL Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
These regulations require Telkom and ISPs to publish on a quarterly basis via their website, Key Performance Indicators (KPI) detailing (at the least) packet loss, average latency and jitter for the provisioned ADSL service.
Only Telkom and MWEB currently comply with these regulations, but the lack of proper guidelines from ICASA means that the KPIs are of little value to consumers.
MWEB’s latest ADSL KPIs – for the period April and June 2011 – list variables like latency, jitter and packet loss, but even with the accurate definitions from MWEB which accompany the KPIs, the average consumer is unlikely to find value (or even find) in this information.
This raises the question whether ICASA should not just officially retract these regulation and either update the regulations, or focus their energy on making the ADSL market more competitive and ensure that there are reasonably priced wholesale services available to ISPs.