The South African communications regulator, ICASA, appears to have had enough of legal challenges to its plans around mobile termination rates and local loop unbundling (LLU). It’s about to announce a public enquiry into the “the state of competition in the ICT sector”.
According to a press release distributed ahead of a full launch tomorrow, ICASA says that it wants to look at all aspects of the communications industry, including the critical question of whether or not facilitating competition will ultimately bring down prices for consumers.
It’s a sound move – after all, while we all accept the doctrine of greater competition being a good thing, my personal experience from the UK is that utility bills skyrocketed after privatisation. Telecoms, however, moved onto a rapid down spiral in terms of price.
Maybe Telkom, MTN and Vodacom have a point when they say LLU and asymetric MTRs will actually increase prices. ICASA looks like it wants to settle the matter once and for all.
The full press release is below. We’ll report back on specifics after the conference tomorrow.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa hereby invites the media and other stakeholders to a Press Conference to announce the launch of a high level Inquiry into the State of Competition in the Information and Communications Technology sector.
The Information and Communications Technology sector has been, and continues to undergo rapid technological changes with far reaching implications for the local and international industries. One area, in which these changes are more pronounced, is in the competitiveness of the electronic communications, broadcasting and postal sectors and the assumption that greater competition will lead to reduction in the cost to communicate.
Another issue is what impact any consolidation of the market will have on the state of competition, the cost to communicate and bridging the digital divide. The question of the assignment of spectrum for broadband will also have an effect on the state of competition in the ICT sector.
It is against this background that the Authority is embarking on a wide ranging inquiry to develop a full appreciation of the implication of these unfolding changes and developments on the regulation of competition in the ICT sector.