Telkom decision imminent – Pule
A decision will be made by early next month at the latest, the communications minister said on Wednesday. By Duncan McLeod.
Communications minister Dina Pule on Wednesday told journalists that cabinet will finalise its decision regarding the future of Telkom either this week or by the “beginning of October”.
Pule, who was speaking at the Classic FM Business Journalist of the Year awards, which are sponsored by Telkom, couldn’t elaborate on what was being considered by cabinet, only saying that “we are following the cabinet processes”.
Pule’s office said earlier this month that the minister will present three options to cabinet following the deliberations of an inter-ministerial committee. The committee consisted of Pule, finance minister Pravin Gordhan, public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba and other cabinet ministers. However, cabinet spokesman Phumla Williams said Pule had not presented to cabinet. Pule then said the necessary documents had been submitted.
It’s been widely speculated that one of the options being considered by government is Telkom’s renationalisation. Pule said in a statement last week that government is “committed to finding the most suitable and long-term solution” to ensure Telkom is “sustainable and able to contribute meaningfully to the country’s infrastructure roll-out programme”.
At Wednesday’s awards ceremony, Pule touched on a number of other areas where the information and communications technology industry is seeking decisions and clarity.
She said her department is continuing to pursue “technical amendments” to both the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) Act and the Electronic Communications Act (ECA).
“We will gazette the ECA amendment later this month,” she said.
On the Icasa Act, she said government proposed reviewing the fines the regulator could impose on operators for transgressions of their operating licences. “Right now, operators can transgress because they can afford to pay the fee, which is R250 000. They can pay it without even looking,” she said.
She added that government wants to “reinforce” state-owned Sentech’s role as a “common carrier”.
She also said there is a need to coordinate broadband roll-out between the different layers of government and the private sector.
Turning to spectrum, she said the 800MHz band, currently used for analogue broadcasting, will only become available to telecoms operators after 2015 but said this does not mean “we shouldn’t be starting to allocate” it.
She said government will adhere to an International Telecommunication deadline of 17 June 2015 for switching off analogue broadcasts and vowed that government will go ahead with a “proof-of-concept” launch for digital television in the Northern Cape next week, despite consumers being unable to purchase set-top boxes.
SA is already years behind in its migration to digital terrestrial television.
“The 2,6GHz band will be released shortly,” the minister said. “Only the policy must be approved. We are waiting for the policy to be approved and Icasa will then help us [with this process].” — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media