ISP Internet Solutions says that an urgently convened workshop, in which all industry players work together, would be the best – and fastest – way to resolve the issues currently preventing local loop unbundling (LLU) being implemented in South Africa.
LLU is the regulatory process of allowing multiple telecommunications operators to use connections from the telephone exchange to the customer’s premises.
LLU would give access to Telkom’s last mile fixed line infrastructure to other communication service providers, creating competition in the market that would give consumers and businesses choice as to price and services.
However, Internet Solutions said that Icasa missed the government deadline for drafting regulations by the end of 2011, retracted a draft issued in 2012, and has now called for submissions on a new version of its regulations.
“Icasa’s new draft is so vague and so broad as to be impossible to implement,” said Internet Solutions Regulatory Affairs Executive, Siyabonga Madyibi.
“What particularly concerns us is that ordinary South Africans and the South African economy as a whole are paying a high price for the time and opportunity that has been lost to industry players through all the delays and the continued monopoly of local loops by a single operator.”
“We’re also troubled by the fact that Icasa appears to have taken no external advice from consultants who have been directly involved in countries where LLU has been undertaken. Nowhere in the world has it been a simple process. Nor, because of its complexity, has it been a process that can simply be replicated from one country or region to the next.”
Internet Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dimension Data, said that the responsible approach would be to ask for advice from people with experience and apply it in the most relevant way to the South African market.
Madyibi said that such significant portions and so much detail of the new draft regulations need reworking that written submissions from industry players would, in effect, have to be redrafts of the entire regulatory document.
“But, each player would inherently see the problem from its own perspective. For this reason, we would like to see everyone in one room at the same time, pooling ideas and concepts for operationally practical LLU – and driving for consensus.”
“Icasa could use this input to create regulations that would not only be relevant to the South African circumstance but could be rolled out immediately. A workshop is now the fastest way to make LLU a reality.”
“We simply have no more time to waste, as an industry or a country,” Madyibi said.