ICASA caused massive damage: industry players

Prominent industry players have questioned the decision of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to take down iBurst’s network by confiscating core network equipment.

iBurst’s network went down on Wednesday morning after ICASA confiscated some of the company’s core network equipment hosted in the MTN Gallo Manor data centre.

Thousands of iBurst and Broadlink customers were left without any services, harming their businesses and causing massive reputation damage to all parties involved – including Broadlink and iBurst resellers.

To date ICASA has been mum on the issue. The fact that the regulator is not willing to explain its actions is causing further uncertainty in an industry which is in dire need of stability and certainty from ICASA and the Department of Communications.

The matter is further complicated by apparent conflict within ICASA regarding the action against WBS/iBurst.

TechCentral reported that ICASA chairman Stephen Mncube instructed councillors to hold off against “any and all actions against WBS… pending the strategy and further investigation into the matter being finalised by [ICASA attorneys] Bowman Gilfillan”.

According to the report, ICASA councillor Joseph Lebooa was not happy, arguing that “The sanction on [ICASA] employees not to act on WBS is illegal and unwarranted and constitutes a violation of the laws of the land.”

Stephen Mncube
Stephen Mncube, Chairman of ICASA

MyBroadband asked the regulator about its decision to take down iBurst’s network, but again the regulator did not explain its actions.

Question: What was behind ICASA’s decision to confiscate iBurst’s core network equipment, essentially taking down the operator’s network?

No answer from ICASA

Question: ICASA previously denied issuing iBurst with a multi-million Rand invoice for outstanding license fees. If such an invoice was not issued, what money was owed to ICASA by iBurst?

No answer from ICASA

Question: Did ICASA follow due process before confiscating iBurst’s equipment? Can you please give details about this process?

No answer from ICASA

Question: Was iBurst provided the opportunity to respond to the charges levelled at them and defend themselves against ICASA’s action?

No answer from ICASA

Question: Why did ICASA think it was necessary to take certain action which left thousands of people without connectivity which hurt businesses and the public?

No answer from ICASA

Question: Why was ICASA previously unwilling to let the public know about their actions which caused a mass connectivity outage to thousands of people in South Africa?

No answer from ICASA

One prominent industry player, who asked not to be named, said that it is regrettable that the regulator seems to want to make a point by taking down a large telecoms network, while it is not doing much to boost the industry through spectrum allocation or local loop unbundling.

He said that disputes regarding license fees are not uncommon, partly because of problems within the regulator.

ICASA’s decision to confiscate core network equipment, which seems to be based on such a dispute, is creating concern in the industry.

Mike Brown, Managing Director of Broadlink which uses iBurst’s network to offer connectivity services, said that ICASA’s actions have caused damage to both his business and his clients.

Brown said that he had no notice from ICASA that they are planning to take down a network which he uses. Broadlink therefore had no opportunity to address the issue with the regulator.

Brown said that WBS/iBurst is in discussions with ICASA to find an amicable resolution to the matter.

Update: Please see ICASA breaks silence on iBurst equipment seizure

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iBurst network outage update

Truth behind iBurst network problems

Icasa councillor hijacked, beaten, threatened because of WBS-iBurst investigation: report

‘Illegal’ spectrum usage battle

Broadlink/iBurst denies illegal spectrum usage

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ICASA caused massive damage: industry players