The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) has gazetted a notice that it will order telecoms regulator ICASA to begin a formal inquiry into the high cost of broadband access in South Africa and, based on its findings, institute new measures to increase competition and reduce costs.
The notice was published late this afternoon and signed by Siyabonga Cwele, DTPS minister, and cites the Electronic Communications Act 2005 and the national broadband policy, aka SA Connect, as mandates for ICASA to begin its inquiry.
According to the notice, after a 30 day period for public comment:
…the Authority must, following an inquiry, prescribe regulations defining therelevant markets and market segments and impose appropriate and sufficient pro-competitive licence conditions on licensees where there is ineffective competition, and if any licensee has significant market power insuch markets or market segments.
Last year, ICASA launched a similarly titled enquiry into the state of competition in the ICT industry, which has still to report back to the regulator on its findings.
An inquiry could be good news for SA Connect, however, which has failed to achieve key goals this year. Just a few weeks ago in finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s mid-term budget speech it was revealed that the budget for broadband deployment from government had been cut by R100m, and not a single school or government building had gained access to the internet as a result of schemes under SA Connect.