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South Africa’s ICT paper makes waves with national wireless infrastructure plan

The South African government has approved its ICT Policy white paper, which has been in development since 2012, with the document outlining the establishment of a wireless open access network (OAN), reports TeleGeography. Under the new framework, all wireless service providers in the country will be required to return their previously assigned spectrum, which in turn will be allocated to the OAN. “This will ensure that operators with significant market power do not leverage access to their infrastructure and critical resources to maintain dominance and deny market access to competition,” the white paper states. Following the adoption of the white paper, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) will be required to conduct an industry-wide public consultation process to determine the terms and conditions, as well as the timeframe, under which the currently exclusively/individually assigned high demand spectrum will be returned to the regulator. While aspects of the white paper have been welcomed, the spectrum part has been much criticised. Duncan McLeod, writing at TechCentral, says: “From network neutrality to universal access, it’s clear that the policy document is meant to reframe the way the ICT sector is managed. Its broad objective – extending the benefits of technology to all South Africans – is laudable. But the way it proposes doing it, by betting the farm on the untested model of a single national wireless broadband infrastructure provider, risks undercutting the very significant achievements the industry has made to date. In essence, government wants South Africa to go it alone, ignoring global best practice.” Read more here and here.

White paper here

  • Thursday, 03 November 2016

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