Cabinet has approved the National Integrated Information Communication Technology (ICT) Policy White Paper, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele has said.
Cwele said that the approval paves the way for the start of a legislative program that will amend laws where necessary, and set up the new proposed structures or institutions.
Structures that don’t require legislation will now be set up. Consultations with South Africans will continue during the process to enact legislation.
Broadband for all, new spectrum policy
“This integrated ICT Policy outlines supply-side measures that will ensure the roll-out of quality communications and broadband infrastructure to reach all areas of the country to ensure universal access and services,” Cwele said.
“In this regard it contains a new Open Access policy that allows access to existing and future networks by all and importantly by new entrants and SMMEs. This policy aspect will reduce the duplications in infrastructure roll-out and minimize the cost of extending the networks to reach the entire country.”
It also contains a new spectrum policy that facilitates spectrum sharing and equal access to the spectrum by all licensed operators, new entrants and SMMEs.
Although the policy has not been published yet, it is believed that it makes provision for the government to take back the frequency spectrum that mobile operators like Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom use for their networks.
Their spectrum would then be combined with unused frequencies to create a single wholesale open access wireless network.
Rapid Deployment Policy
The paper also contains a Rapid Deployment Policy which will streamline the permissions and access by the network operators so as to enable a faster and cheaper roll-out of services, Cwele said.
He said that in the past, the pace of rolling out networks has been hampered by the bureaucracy associated with getting municipal and other permissions. The Rapid Deployment Policy will resolve this dilemma.
The policy will be made available to the public in due course, and a comprehensive media briefing will take place shortly, Cwele said.