EIGHTEEN MONTHS into a liberalised era and the hype that preceded the 1 February 2005 “big bang” announcement has evaporated. Contrary to expectations, the status quo regarding broadband access and pricing remains largely unchanged.
Speaking at a recent "digital cities" forum held in Johannesburg, Motorola sales director for the EMEA region Paul Budgen said that in order for South Africa’s business houses and end-users to reap the benefits of liberalisation, policy makers had to radically overhaul the telecoms landscape.
Budgen said: "Considering the entrenched presence of the Australian incumbent operator Telstra, managed liberalisation failed in Australia. And there are lot of similarities in the monopoly status granted to Telstra and that of SA’s incumbent, Telkom.
New entrants and other competing service providers must be given unqualified access to national backbone infrastructure." Budgen attributed Kenya’s fledging telecoms industry to its policy of wholesale liberalisation. "Kenya’s telecoms tariffs compare quite well with SA’s."
However, if Telkom remained insistent on hanging on to key infrastructure – such as the local loop – Budgen had this advice for Telkom’s competing service providers: "Go wireless."
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