A freer telecoms market in SA?

Government’s department of communications (DoC) has made a number of key pronouncements with regard to enabling a freer telecommunications market in South Africa.

These include a commitment to local loop unbundling, self provision of international traffic and the fast implementation of the new Electronic Communications Act.

The DoC will also use state-owned signal distributor Sentech to build an extensive wireless broadband network.

Crucial role

Speaking in parliament on the DoC’s annual budget vote, Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri acknowledged that the information and communication technology (ICT) sector played a crucial role in the country’s goal of achieving economic growth rates of at least 6%.

"Investment is ICT broadband infrastructure is central to achieving the objectives," she said.

The minister said she would consult with regulator Icasa shortly on her intention to issue a policy directive setting a time-frame within which it will enable all licensees of electronic communications networks to interconnect with Telkom’s last mile network (the local loop, which connects the backbone to people’s homes and offices). Matsepe-Casaburri said she would also consult with Telkom on the matter.

Engineering scientist Tshilidzi Marwala has been appointed to chair a local loop unbundling committee to make recommendations and oversee its implementation.

Broadband affordable

Matsepe-Casaburri also said she was determined to make international broadband infrastructure more affordable. To this end, she would soon issue a policy directive to Icasa with a time frame for ensuring access to international cables don’t unfairly exclude others and are provided on a cost basis.

The department is focusing its efforts on the Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy), to ensure that the same restrictions that apply to existing system SAT-3 do not apply to the new cable infrastructure.

The minister committed that within six months of the new Act being promulgated – it has been signed, but has not yet come into force – "all holders of licenses that will qualify to be converted into individual electronic licenses will have the ability to self provide with respect to their international traffic".

Matsepe-Casaburri said it would soon make further announcements with regard to using state owned enterprises to ensure a robust broadband infrastructure for the country, in conjunction with the department of public enterprises.

Voice traffic

Sentech would form the core of the wireless component of the country’s broadband infrastructure and its coverage would be expanded beyond the current footprint and enable it to carry voice traffic as well.

The minister also announced the formation of a Broadband Advisory Committee including experts from the continent.

The department has also previously expressed concern on the ability of the Under-Serviced Area licensees to deliver on their mandate and has said it needs to enable them to use new technologies to do so.

Matsepe-Casaburri said she would issue a policy directive to Icasa to facilitate the deployment of W-CDMA (Wideband – Code Division Multiple Access), mainly to assist the USALs.

In addition, the DoC confirmed it would strengthen Icasa through the allocation of additional financial and human resources. This is in order to ensure it can deliver on the requirements of the Act.

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Source:  http://www.fin24.co.za/

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A freer telecoms market in SA?