The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) presented its 5-year strategic plan to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications on Wednesday (18 April 2012), detailing its goals, achievements, and financial plan for 2013–2017.
ICASA chairman Stephen Mncube said that their presentation to parliament was a great success and was accepted by the committee.
In the presentation, ICASA CEO Themba Dlamini outlined the regulator’s revised strategic priorities for 2012–2013 as follows:
- Local Loop Unbundling (LLU);
- Access to, and pricing of broadband;
- Spectrum monitoring and assignment equipment and related software;
- Review of existing regulatory framework for broadcasting services to support the introduction of digital terrestrial television;
- Universal Service and Access; and
- Licensing of Spectrum.
ICASA’s three operational priorities for the period are:
- Head Office relocation;
- Organisational realignment; and
- Formulation of a self-funding model.
Dlamini went on to list ICASA’s goals for the rest of the 2011/12 financial year, as well as their plans for 2012/13:
- Licensing high demand spectrum in a way that it is efficiently used;
- Add new entrants to the broadband market to stimulate competition and increased access to broadband services to rural areas;
- Licensing of additional subscription broadcasting services to promote diversity and choice of broadcasting services, as well competition;
- Introduction of a wholesale network access product (Bitstream) by November 2012;
- Accounting Separation Regulations to allow ICASA to further regulate wholesale voice call termination prices, if further intervention after the 2013 wholesale voice call termination price cut is necessary;
- Digital Migration Regulations; and
- Completion and introduction of the Rapid Deployment Guidelines to substantially reduce delays in the deployment of much needed new infrastructure to support the digitisation of the South African economy.
Dlamini said that ICASA and the DoC are working closely on the Rapid Deployment Guidelines project and intend to have a draft set of guidelines out for public comment by the end of June 2012.
It should also be noted that ICASA issued an invitation to apply (ITA) for much sought-after spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands towards the end of last year.
The ITA was welcomed by many industry players, but mobile network operators such as Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C were vocal in their opposition of ICASA’s plan. This is despite their apparent desperation for the spectrum to become available for the roll out of high speed mobile broadband technology such as LTE.
ICASA is waiting for a policy direction on spectrum to be issued by the Department of Communications (DoC) before it can continue its ITA process.
The DoC revealed on Thursday (20 April 2012) that it plans to make this policy available in May 2012.
Other goals and key interventions outlined by Dlamini were:
- Reduce the prices that community TV and radio licensees are to pay Sentech by 30 June 2012;
- Conduct annual audit on Licensees’ equity ownership;
- Produce annual compliance reports;
- Develop an appropriate implementation plan, depending on the outcome of the Universal Service Access Obligations findings document;
- Implement the Universal Service Access Regulations; and
- Procurement of broadcasting and postal monitoring equipment.