LLU set for yet more delays

A proposal by the department of communications that a comprehensive regulatory impact assessment be conducted ahead of local-loop unbundling once again looks set to delay the process. By Craig Wilson.

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Is the department of communications trying to delay the unbundling of Telkom’s local loop? Industry insiders believe its proposal that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) first conduct a regulatory impact assessment, or RIA, suggests just that.

The purpose of the RIA would be to gauge the likely effect local-loop unbundling (LLU) — opening Telkom’s “last mile” of copper-cable infrastructure to its competitors — would have on the South African telecommunications sector. But doing so could stall the process, possibly by years. Unbundling is already years behind schedule and was meant to have taken place by 2011.

Last week, Icasa confirmed that it had finalised draft regulations on LLU, but said it wouldn’t publish them until communications minister Yunus Carrim looked them over and provided feedback. This followed a meeting with Icasa at which both Carrim and communications department director-general Rosey Sekese were present.

Icasa was meant to have published the draft regulations last month.

The authority, which is meant to be independent of the executive arm of government, does not require the minister’s approval before publishing regulations. However, it said it did not want to have to withdraw or review the regulations later should Carrim have “another view”.

Unbundling was originally meant to be completed by November 2011 following a policy direction issued in 2007 by then-communications minister, Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri. Now Icasa says it wants to complete the regulations for LLU by March 2014.

Carrim’s spokesman, Siya Qoza, says the department of communications is “in discussions” with Icasa about conducting a RIA as part of “evidence-based policy and regulatory work”.

“In this instance, we believe that a RIA study would help establish an understanding of the evolution of the market after LLU,” Qoza says.

Such a study would benefit the department’s policy review process and the cost-to-communicate programme, he says.

“We fully respect the independence of Icasa. Our engagements with them are designed to facilitate progress on key issues,” Qoza adds. “Icasa is not objecting to a RIA study but has indicated that it does not have sufficient funds for such a study. We are also discussing how the department can assist.”

However, one senior Icasa insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, tells TechCentral that LLU is “not optional” and that the RIA is just meant to stall the inevitable.

“These are delaying tactics. Everyone is telling us we have to do a RIA, but that’s just so we can postpone the entire thing,” the source says.

Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka says the authority doesn’t think a RIA is necessary. Under the Electronic Communications Act, LLU is “not optional”, while a RIA is not a requirement. He says Icasa’s view that a RIA is not necessary was “articulated to the department of communications”.

“It is not only due to lack of budget that Icasa is not doing a RIA, but because we are guided by the act,” Maleka says. Icasa has not made a request to the department for funds for a RIA.

The original instruction to unbundle the local loop came in Matsepe-Casaburri’s policy direction, which still stands. The source says that even if Sekese persuades Carrim to withdraw the 2007 policy direction, Icasa remains “legally obliged” to continue with the process under a ruling issued by the authority’s complaints and compliance committee (CCC). “The CCC has instructed us to write the regulations.”

Last May, the CCC found in Neotel’s favour in a dispute over gaining access to two of Telkom’s Johannesburg exchanges. This ruling appeared to imply that Neotel could use existing facilities-leasing regulations to get access to its rival’s last-mile network, preempting LLU.

Telkom has long argued that it faces an “access-line deficit”, in terms of which it loses money on every line in service before value-added services are sold. Icasa, it argues, must take this deficit into account before implementing any form of unbundling.  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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  • Vusi Sibiya

    And what makes sense to you John, is all the noise that comes from the DA whilst they fail to make any inroads into gaining the support of the masses.

    More and more people are realizing what the DA and their supporters are about and they are quite frankly tired of the BS which turns them into losers every-time we go to the polls.

    Looks like, just as with the slate that opposed Zuma, you are completely in the dark as to what’s coming your way, come next year’s elections but that’s not surprising since your kind, is the kind that can’t make sense of the truth.

  • Vusi Sibiya

    Even more ridiculous since one would expect a moderator to know better… now you’re onto something, seems like you’re slightly more intelligent than the “brown-noser” named Greg.

  • John Mitchell

    Please Duncan, just moderate the troll.

  • Zawahiri

    my only worry about faceless anonymous insider sources is their motives! i am not a fan of the ANC but the secrecy bill will definitely help government to deal harshly with these faceless people who spread personal agendas/ lies as facts.

  • TPM2

    we need competent people…what does yusuf know about IT and comms? delays are unacceptable…fire them

  • Vusi Sibiya

    Initially, I was not ecstatic about the secrecy bill but having heard from celebrity personalities and various others who have been deliberately misrepresented by the media behaving in the manner which they’ve been of late, it would appear that the large majority is in favor of having the media disciplined and hopefully we can return to a time when journalist can report on a story, giving accurate well researched facts and insights.

    It’s surprising though that there’s still the minority of losers who haven’t realized what’s been so blatantly apparent in all the anti-ANC and government propaganda; but next year will once again be a revelation of all the lies as has been the case in all previous elections. The biggest losers in all of this is going to be the DA because they remain in the dark thinking that the problem is getting the ignorant blacks educated when what they should be doing, is dealing with the person in the mirror.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    “celebrity personalities and various others who have been deliberately misrepresented by the media ”

    Will the secrecy bill help them? It’s “Protection of State Information Bill” … to protect state information, not celebrity gossip.

  • Joe Black

    I used to think the same, but I think it does not hold true any more. Many South African’s have access to the internet to some degree. I lean more towards protecting business interests. Any company where the PIC (and so by proxy the holiest of holy GEPF) has shares is heavily protected. I’m pretty sure the gov dips heavily into the GEPF anyway just like it does into everything from the fuel levy proceeds to the road accidents fund.

  • Vusi Sibiya

    So Juju is not a celeb… the bill means that you can’t hide the source should what you publish be in contention, so yes it will help celebrity personalities and others. Once again get your facts straight and stop revealing your ignorance.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    The majority of the public has pretty awful access to communications; middle and upper class users I agree with you – BB is a cost effective way of getting online cheap, but that doesn’t really push down into the very low LSMs, or the ANC’s voting base. The government could, with 1 or 2 signatures, ensure that the private sector would trip over their own feet trying to sign up millions of low-income users with decent internet access. Every time something important comes up that could help the masses, the government finds a way of obstructing it. The first few times it could be chalked up to incompetence, but it’s been going on long enough to be very suspicious at the very least.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Can’t think of any way the bill would have helped Juju… Can’t see the Zuma administration stepping in and declaring his affairs a state secret to help him out!

  • Vusi Sibiya

    Did your English teacher omit to explain the broader meaning of the word celebrity, or is it that you find yourself in the dark because of being so ignorant?

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    The bill will only protect information for diplomatic and political purposes, not celebrity purposes as your original statement infers. I understand English isn’t your first language, and don’t hold it against you that you don’t quite get what you’re explaining… I’m sure I’d make even less sense if I tried Zulu!

  • Joe Black

    Fair enough yeah.

  • John Mitchell

    Vusi, you are so rude. Who the hell do you think you are?

  • Vusi Sibiya

    The days when you addressed black people in that manner expired more than 20 years ago.

    I’m the darkie that’s exposing the “racist DA pigs” for what they truly are… Thank you for your cooperation.

  • Vusi Sibiya

    Well you should be in favor of it then, since there’s clearly nothing wrong with it given what it’s intended for… so if a celebrity personality, I’m sorry uhm Politician (since the term celebrity wouldn’t describe a politician) were to be implicated in a story where the media withheld their source, you would have no problem with that publication or media entity being compelled to reveal it’s source? You are such a fool Greg… get your nose back up where it belongs “brown noser”

  • John Mitchell

    Wow, you’re the real racist here. I said nothing about race. And what’s with calling DA supporters pigs? Have you no shame? What’s wrong with you?!

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    At least we can agree that the term celebrity and politician aren’t interchangeable. Politicians shouldn’t strive for celebrity, it usually makes their jobs harder.

    I would absolutely be against media being compelled to reveal their sources. It’s up to the reader to decide if they trust the unnamed source. Over the course of history, countless good has been done by anonymous sources and whistleblowers, it’s one of the fundamental concepts behind journalism.

    I assume that “brown noser” quip is supposed to be an insult, but I’m not sure who I’m supposed to be brown nosing? Or is it a racist comment, trying to drag me down to your level, because you actually DO have a brown nose :)

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    I don’t get it. Is he implying that DA supporters are cops? I don’t know any white people who would take “pigs” as an insult, unless they’re house proud and are being accused of having a messy home.

  • John Mitchell

    He has no manners

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Sure, but he’s fun to toy with. Like a cat chasing a laser pointer. Predictable and easy to bait.

  • Vusi Sibiya

    Kwaaaa, LMAO… Now that’s the kind of humor and well thought out response which someone at my level can appreciate!

    It should be apparent that, the media is no tool to influence the masses politically because historically it’s not been worthy of the majority’s trust and this where the opposition seems to loose the plot, spending all their time trying to feed the media with anti ANC and government propaganda that does absolutely nothing to change or influence the masses. It takes just 15min with a single household, through an intensive ground volunteer campaign to secure the votes of that household.

    The media is just a tool for pretentious “Ego Maniacs” who don’t really care to put the good of the country before their egos and strive to ensure that there is one strong opposition that will keep the ruling party on it’s toes.

    Just like there’s room for only 3 mobile operators in SA, I also think that there’s only room for at most, 3 political parties but the “Ego Maniacs” need to get over themselves first and put our country first.

    Now let’s get back to what TC is all about and push for a deal between Telkom and Cell C :)

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