Fibre telecommunications industry lobby group, the FTTH Council Africa, has decided to take legal steps against the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality over a moratorium on new fibre projects in the vast East Rand region.
The council has been threatening legal action for the past fortnight after its members were barred from building new fibre in the region. The municipality said the moratorium was needed so it could conduct an audit of the fibre in the ground.
“We feel that we have exhausted all avenues to amicably resolve the lifting of the moratorium that has been placed on the deployment of telecoms infrastructure,” says council CEO Juanita Clark.
“Since the first letters were sent, we were told that this moratorium has been lifted [but] a few days later we were told that it was not,” she says.
She says no new rights of way have been issued to its members wanting to dig trenches and extend infrastructure in the East Rand.
“The FTTH Council has received only a single communication from the [municipality], in which it acknowledges the existence of the moratorium, but has to date not indicated the length or adequate reasons for such a moratorium.”
She says the council’s view is that the municipality did not need to place a moratorium on deployment in order to do a network audit.
Ekurhuleni chief information officer Lilian Phahla told TechCentral last month that the moratorium wouldn’t last long and was needed so the municipality could audit all of the fibre in the ground in the region. She says Ekurhuleni had issued a tender for a company to conduct an audit of both the fibre that the municipality had installed itself and the fibre that had been provided by private-sector operators. The purpose was to prevent duplication of infrastructure, she said.
“We have now referred this matter to our legal representatives, Mahons Attorneys, who will deal with the matter via the correct legal course and take the necessary steps,” Clark says. “We have considered the severity of the implications of this matter and we have full faith that our case is clear and should have the desired outcome.”