To the delight of many ADSL subscribers the much anticipated ICASA ADSL Regulations were released recently. Unfortunately it does not seem to have had any impact on the provisioning of ADSL.
The recently released ADSL regulations was a cause for hope among many ADSL subscribers, especially since it called for uncapped local bandwidth, no periodic service resets and prohibited traffic shaping.
The regulations may also call for the scrapping of ADSL access charges, depending on the interpretation of the somewhat unclear stipulations in the document.
These can all be very positive developments in the local ADSL arena, but for the regulations to have the desired effect they have to be implemented by Telkom and ISPs first. This is where the problem comes in.
Waiting for Telkom, ISPA
Most ISPs are waiting for Telkom’s lead concerning the implementation of the regulations, but the monopoly is sending out a loud and clear message that things will not happen soon.
Other ISPs are waiting for the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) to give them guidance in this matter. Unfortunately clear guidelines are also not forthcoming from this source.
“Basically we taking a "wait and see" approach and have asked ISPA for clarity on what is required of us. At this stage we don’t have an answer. However the draft regulations are worded rather badly so whether a lot of it can be enforced is currently under debate,” said Matthew Tagg, MD of WebAfrica.
Telkom is also not giving any clear indication as to its plans regarding the regulations, but what is clear is that they have not implemented any changes to their own ADSL offering as required by the ADSL Regulations.
Users are still getting capped on local bandwidth, there are still periodic resets and the ADSL access charges are still alive and well.
Unless ICASA starts to play hardball with Telkom the two and a half year process of drawing up these regulations may prove to have been a colossal waste of time.
It is in the short term more in the interest of consumers and not so much Telkom and ISPs to implement these changes, and unless they are forced to do so nothing concrete is likely to happen.
ICASA to revisit the regulations
A great deal of criticism has been lodged against the regulations, especially due to the lack of clarity making it virtually impossible for ISPs to implement unless the wholesale model is changed.
ICASA recently gave an indication that these regulations will be revisited, and that ICASA may also address the issue of ADSL pricing.
Unfortunately the under staffed ICASA, who lost many of its councilors and senior managers recently, is under increasing pressure. The recently released ECA further puts pressure on the regulator to convert licenses and perform tasks related to this release.
With a limited capacity this can be a daunting task, and it is not entirely surprising that ICASA is struggling properly regulate the local telecoms environment.
Neither Telkom nor IS (Internet Solutions) gave feedback regarding their intentions concerning changes required by the regulations at the time of publication.
Users are also encouraged to give their views on the regulations here: http://mybroadband.co.za/vb/showthread.php?t=52686