Great uncertainty remains over the landing rights of international undersea cable systems like SEACOM and EASSy after the Minister announced that landing rights are not guaranteed unless they abide by certain stipulations to be laid down by the Department of Communications (DoC).
Initial reports suggested that the cables had to be majority South African owned to land on our local shores, but the latest word from the DoC is that the cables will have to be majority African owned.
Neotel is confident that despite potential additional DoC requirements for landing undersea cables in South Africa, landing the SEACOM cable is legal.
“Landing of the SEACOM cable by Neotel is legal under the various acts and South Africa’s regulatory framework,” said Neotel CEO Ajay Pandey.
The more the merrier
Neotel CEO Ajay Pandey believes that the more cables that land in South Africa the better.
“As long as the cables are laid, landed and managed in accordance with the law and regulatory framework, we believe that the more that can be landed the better to provide faster, easier, cheaper and more equitable access to international bandwidth,” says Pandey.
“The cost of laying an undersea cable to South Africa runs in the hundreds of millions of Dollars – Dollars, not Rands. The investment required is massive, and we urge government to support private sector investment in these cables as they are critical to South Africa’s economic and development goals.”
This view is shared by the OECD telecoms expert Dr. Taylor Reynolds. Speaking at the ITWeb Broadband Conference in Midrand, Reynolds said that Government should remove all foreign investment barriers to providers of international connectivity coming into South Africa.
“It does not matter who provides bandwidth connectivity to the world, you just need more of it. The more that comes in, the better it will be for consumers,” Reynolds said.
Open SAT3 access an immediate solution
Neotel believes that open access to the SAT3 cable is the most pressing issue which can immediately benefit the local telecoms market.
“The most immediate benefit would be achieved by government facilitating open access to the SAT3 undersea cable, which they have already made some progress on. Having open access to SAT3 would substantially alleviate the immediate crises,” said Pandey.
Neotel said that government’s declaration that the SAT3 cable is an essential facility was a big step forward, and that his company is already making good progress on providing end-to-end circuits on SAT3 soon.
Pandey further expects significant price reductions now that access to the SAT3 cable is more equitable and once more international cables land in South Africa the prices should drop further. “There is no question that prices will drop and services will improve,” Pandey concluded.