The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) has responded to the wild allegations against them and other organizations by the SMME Forum, calling the ‘vague and unsubstantiated’ statements ‘unfortunate and misguided’.
ISPA pointed out that most research in the area of South African telecoms points to the detrimental effect of Telkom’s monopoly on this sector and country as a whole.
“A large number of independent studies of the South African communications market have been conducted over the last decade. Almost all of them agree that Telkom’s de facto monopoly of much of the communications market is detrimental to consumers, business and development in South Africa,” ISPA said.
ISPA showed their support towards organizations like MyADSL and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) who try to give the consumer a voice in the telecoms space.
“ISPA believes that it would be foolish for anyone to ignore the substantial evidence of this problem and dismiss it as a "preoccupation" of Telkom’s critics. ISPA believes that making wild attacks on organisations such as the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and MyADSL, which seem genuinely interested in giving voice to consumer concerns, does little to address the serious underlying problems in the South African communications sector,” ISPA said.
One of the criticisms lodged against ISPA by the SMME Forum was that they “do not care about internet availability in previously disadvantaged areas”.
Here ISPA invites anyone who is interested in what they have achieved in the social development arena to join them, free of charge, at this year’s iWeek.
“ISPA would also like to welcome anyone interested in ISPA’s social development program to attend the first day of iWeek, ISPA’s annual conference, held from 4-7 September. Amongst the conference delegates will be some of the teachers from previously disadvantaged areas who have benefitted from ISPA’s training program over the last year.”
The conference is free and registration can be done online at http://www.ispa.org.za/iweek/2006/apply.shtml
The SMME Forum’s harsh attacks on ISPA, MyADSL, Genesis Analytics and the FXI have drawn criticism from many consumers.
Comments like “kindly reconcile the alleged proudly South African attitude of Telkom to advancing the cause of the poor with R14.667 billion rand in profit in the last financial year” and “Whenever something flies in the face of common sense, you have to… follow the money” formed part of online discussions regarding this matter.
Many people feel that the SMME Forum’s attack on Telkom critics is related to their president, Mr. Tebogo Khaas’ interest in acquiring a large BEE stake in Telkom subsidiary Swiftnet.