Active citizenship is something we try to encourage as often as possible and if you own land then today’s call may be worth paying attention to.

Minister of communications and digital technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, has published an invitation to comment on proposed policy and policy direction on rapid deployment of electronic communications networks and facilities.

That’s a mouthful but essentially, this is meant to inform how networks will be deployed. This is described in the background of the invitation.

“Demand for connectivity requires ongoing investment in and roll-out of electronic communications networks. Widespread coverage of electronic communications networks is necessary for the creation of a digital economy and digital society. High speed, high
quality networks are required for advanced connected devices and services, while ensuring that rural areas do not lag behind. The emergence of 5G networks will enable autonomous vehicles on our roads as well as various other disruptive technologies of the
4th Industrial Revolution. Rights of way will become increasingly important to deploy massive numbers of small cells for 5G and backhaul to connect the cells,” government explains.

With this in mind, as it stands the policy would allow a “electronic communications network service licensee” to enter and use private and public land for deployment of networks and facilities.

Now, there is a process involved here. For instance, a network licensee would have to give 30 days notice (that’s calendar days) of the proposed activity.

This doesn’t mean that networks can just come into your property, build a tower and leave it in a mess. It seems that government remembers that furore surrounding fibre deployments and the sorry state many firms left the roads in. As it stands policy dictates that networks would have to restore the property to the state it was in when it arrived.

There is however also responsibility on the side of the property owner.

“Property owners must exercise due care and diligence to avoid damage to electronic communications networks or facilities deployed on its property. If such electronic communications networks or facilities are damaged due to the fault of a property owner, reasonable compensation agreed to between the property owner and the electronic communications network service licensee is payable,” reads the policy.

This decision has us wondering whether local government is concerned about 5G infrastructure being destroyed like it was in other parts of the world.

Of course, property owners are able to protest the building of infrastructure and there is a process informed by the policy that must take place.

As mentioned, right now the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies is looking for comments on this policy.

South Africans have 30 working days (from 22nd July 2020) to comment on this policy and comments can be mailed in, emailed in or hand-delivered.

Comments should be addressed to Mr. A Wiltz, Chief Director, Telecommunications and IT Policy.

We’ve listed the submission methods below:

  • Hand delivery – First Floor, Block A3, iParioli Office Park, 1166 Park Street, Hatfield, Pretoria
  • Post – Private Bag X860, Pretoria, 0001
  • Email – rapid[at]dtps.gov.za

The full text of the invitation to comment on proposed policy and policy direction on rapid deployment of electronic communications networks and facilities can be found here.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]