Split Telkom: John Holdsworth

The November 2011 deadline for local loop unbundling (LLU) is looming, but doubts are cast on whether anything concrete will happen this year.

LLU is seen as an intervention which will increase competition in the fixed line and ADSL market, which in turn will drive down prices and improve service levels.

Speaking at the recent MyBroadband conference, ISPA’s Ant Brooks said that competition is the key component to creating more choice and driving down prices to consumers.

“We need competition on every level,” said Brooks, adding that local loop unbundling will create competition right at the consumer level.

Brooks said that he expects opposition from Telkom, who is still fighting competition and retain their grip on infrastructure which they have built over the years.

Ant Brooks
Ant Brooks

Former ECN CEO, John Holdsworth, said that regulatory intervention is needed before competition. “Because of Telkom’s inherent monopoly position it is not possible for any other operator to enter the space and set up a network to compete with Telkom,” said Holdsworth.

“We are arguing about LLU. I have got more chance of falling pregnant than LLU being introduced this year,” quipped Holdsworth.

Holdsworth said that LLU is a mature technology, and that has been around for many years. However, he added that what is really needed is equivalence of input.

“The regulator and the Department of Communications need to step in and they need to split Telkom. They need to say that we are going to create a network company and a separate retail company,” said Holdsworth.

“Before competition we need to set a regulatory framework. It is very difficult to compete against Telkom retail when they have all this inherent dominance and monopoly possession.”

John Holdsworth
John Holdsworth

LLU November deadline

ICASA said that they are not planning to draft LLU regulations as part of the current process, and it is therefore not something people should be looking for.

ICASA said that they are on track to announce their recommendations on a framework for LLU by the end of November 2011.

“Following the public consultation recently held, ICASA will be in a position to announce its findings and recommendations on a framework for LLU by the November deadline,” the regulator said.

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Split Telkom: John Holdsworth