The Department of Communications has made it clear that it plans to be a significant player in the South African telecommunications and broadband market.
Speaking at the “Broadband Policy and Implementation Plan Workshop” held at Vodacom World on 6 November 2012, the DoC’s Norman Munzhelele said that government will continue to be a critical investor in the development of broadband networks.
Munzhelele highlighted that they will be particularly active in areas where there are market failures. “That is a very, very strong message we are sending,” said Munzhelele.
He added that state-owned companies are central in delivering wholesale broadband networks. It is assumed that Munzhelele is referring to companies such as Sentech, Broadband Infraco, and potentially Telkom.
Open access wholesale networks
He added that government will encourage the rollout of wholesale open access networks.
“There is a whole theory about open access – whether it has worked and so on – but we will not know if we have not tried it in this country.”
According to Munzhelele wholesale open access networks are key to create a level playing field, and boost competition to allow anyone who wants to offer services to gain access to these networks.
Broadband access networks
The DoC said that it sees broadband as a utility, and that it has to be made available universally to all parts of the country.
“It has to form part of basics like water, roads and electricity to be made available to all,” said Munzhelele.
“We will support and encourage measures to encourage fibre to the premise by the private sector.”