South Africa: Ensafrica Telecoms And Media In Brief

Last Updated: 13 June 2019
Article by   ENSafrica

Most Read Contributor in South Africa, July 2019

telecommunications

  • regulations and notices
    • GG42417 – 2019 NN604: Draft Consumer Advisory Panel Amendment

      Regulations, 2019

      • on 26 April 2019, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa ("ICASA") published the Draft Consumer Advisory Panel Amendment Regulations, 2019. ICASA has made the decision that the budget of the Consumer Advisory Panel (the "Panel") can be better managed by it, as it is the custodian of the said budget. As a result, the Chairperson of the Panel is no longer under the duty to manage the budget.
      • the Panel was established by ICASA to advise it on all consumerrelated issues within broadcasting, telecommunications and postal services.
      • the Panel is tasked with, among other things, reaching out to consumers so as to understand their concerns, recommend what consumer protection research should be undertaken, and to promote consumer interests.
      • comments must be submitted to ICASA no later than 30 working days from the date of publication, this being 11 June 2019.
      • the written comments may be submitted by post, hand delivery or electronically and must be marked specifically for attention of: Mr Gumani Malebusha, email: gmalebusha@icasa.org.za, tel: +27 21 568 3423.
  • case law/in the news
    • Spectrum Framework placed on hold
      • Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services, has announced that the decision has been taken to hold back on the release of the finalised policy directive relating to the Spectrum Framework.
      • the policy directive is eagerly anticipated by the industry awaiting more spectrum in order to provide faster and more wide-spread highspeed data services, most especially in light of the increasing pressure to provide affordable connectivity services to their customers. ICASA first began to consider the questions of how to allocate high demand spectrum almost 10 years ago, but has since been ordered to halt the process pending ministerial direction.
      • Dr Charley Lewis, an independent analyst, has opined that "the link claimed between availability of spectrum and the price of services claimed by the operators does exist, and this is especially relevant in light of the recent Competition Commission finding on data pricing in SA."
      • this latest announcement also means, according to Sabelo Dlamini (senior research and consulting manager at the Industrial Development Corporation), that mobile operators' infrastructure plans will be negatively impacted. He argues that regulatory stability and transparency have a direct relationship with an operator's longterm planning and investment strategies. Without relative certainty about the spectrum roadmap and the future regulatory environment for spectrum licence renewal, taxation and coverage obligations, mobile operators will likely be left with little choice but to delay further investment, which in turn can delay the provision of mobile services to consumers.
      • there is no indication at this stage when the policy will be finalised. However, it appears likely that the delay might stem from postelection uncertainty surrounding the composition of the president's cabinet.
    • ICASA agrees with the Competition Commission's Provisional Data Cost Report
      • ICASA has agreed with the Competition Commission's ruling in the Provisional Data Cost Report that the cost of data must fall. According to ICASA, the report confirms the observations and findings that data services in South Africa are high relative to peer countries. This echoes the report released by ICASA pursuant to the tariff analysis conducted, in which it confirmed that MTN and Vodacom charge higher prices for the 1GB and 3GB data bundle at ZAR149 and ZAR299, respectively.
      • ICASA has indicated that it has also begun a market review into mobile data services. Depending on the outcome of this analysis, ICASA plans to impose pro-competitive remedies on players with significant market powers where it finds it appropriate.

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