Cwele welcomes ICT Policy White Paper, but there will be problems

South Africa’s controversial ICT Policy White Paper was approved by Cabinet last week, but there is almost no doubt that some aspects of it will make a turn in court.

Cabinet’s approval of the White Paper was welcomed by Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele, but the document details how spectrum in the country is managed and allocated. That in itself is already a contentious issue.

The paper calls spectrum “important utility and a public good” and over the weekend the minister said that it will call on all spectrum owners to work together, instead of spectrum being assigned to a single party for a set period of time.

“Historically, spectrum for mobile has been assigned to individual licensees who are then given exclusive rights to it for a defined period in a defined geographic area. The new spectrum management regime set out in this policy encourages licensees to work together as far as it is practicable. This includes through the deployment of a wireless open-access network,” Cwele said.

This will no doubt throw a spanner in the works for the auctioning of spectrum as Icasa announced some time ago. The minister was not pleased with the regulator’s announcement, and said that he will go to court to the auction.

He added: “[The paper] contains a new Open Access Policy that allows access to existing and future networks by all, and importantly by new entrants and SMMEs.”

‘Open Access’, as defined in the White Paper, is “wholesale access provided to electronic communications network infrastructure or services on terms that are reasonable, effective, transparent and non-discriminatory”.

He added that what is set out in the White Paper will make the roll out of networks faster.

“The pace of rolling out networks has in the past been hampered by the bureaucracy associated with getting municipal and other permissions. The Rapid Deployment Policy will resolve this dilemma.”

[Source – SA News]


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