Local-loop unbundling deadline nears
The first stage of local-loop unbundling is meant to happen next month. But with Telkom and Icasa still fleshing out the details, that deadline may slip. By Craig Wilson.
The first step towards unbundling Telkom’s local loop of copper cables into homes and businesses, is meant to happen in November. But given the terms agreed between the fixed-line operator and the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), it’s not clear whether this deadline will be met.
With unbundling deemed a priority by Telkom’s rivals, Icasa was originally given a deadline of the end of November last year to implement the regulatory intervention. However, the authority simply published a framework at the time, in terms of which it would pursue possible interventions.
It opted for a piecemeal approach, advocating the introduction of bit-stream access — the softest form of unbundling — and set the November 2012 deadline.
It’s hoped that unbundling, even basic bit-stream unbundling, will reduce the cost of connectivity and foster greater competition in the fixed-line market.
Telkom warns, however, that any intervention must still be counterbalanced by a recovery scheme for the “access-line deficit”, whereby it loses money — cumulatively running into billions of rand — on the basic line-rental fees for each telephone line in service.
The operator says in written response to questions from TechCentral that working teams from both Telkom and Icasa have been “engaged in discussing an access-line deficit recovery scheme, which is a precursor to bit-stream implementation”.
“As these processes emanate from Icasa’s [unbundling] consultation process and findings document and is led by Icasa, Telkom is of the view that it is best that these queries be directed to Icasa.”
TechCentral was unable to get a response from Icasa as to whether or not an access-line deficit recovery plan has been finalised or whether it will be in time to meet the November deadline for bit-stream access to be implemented. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media