Big changes in South African telecoms market expected

The South African telecommunications market will see many changes this year, which will impact most ICT companies.

This is according to Webber Wentzel partner Nozipho Mngomezulu, who said ICASA is currently considering a number of issues and changes. These include:

  1. Making changes to the end-user subscriber management charter, which seem to be aimed at addressing issues relating to what consumer’s view as the high cost of data.
  2. Introducing changes to the Electronic Communications Act that are, amongst other things, aimed at dealing with issues of how radio frequency spectrum is allocated and used, facilitating access to essential infrastructure, introducing the principle of open access, and enabling the construction of networks.
  3. Introducing regulations that deal with issues of ownership and control. In particular, what constitutes control for purposes of the Electronic Communications Act, and when changes in shareholding will require the prior approval of ICASA.
  4. Dealing with issues relating to BBEEE in the sector and in particular, the ambiguity that currently exists in the sector as to how ICASA measures BBEEE compliance.

“It is unclear as to when these changes are likely to take effect, but from what we have observed, it seems that the changes are indeed imminent,” said Mngomezulu.

Mngomezulu added that in the IT space, the most pertinent change will be the introduction of the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill.

The Bill creates new criminal offences relating to cybercrimes and also sets out certain obligations which will need to be observed by financial institutions and telecoms providers, including in relation to reporting crimes and preserving information relating to cybercrimes.

“In addition, POPI is also likely to come into effect. This will, of course, have a significant impact on how personal information is processed,” said Mngomezulu.

Now read: We do not want spectrum without conditions – MTN

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Big changes in South African telecoms market expected