Fibre telecommunications industry lobby group, the FTTH Council Africa, has warned it will take the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality to court on Friday if it continues to enforce a moratorium, introduced on Tuesday, on new fibre installations on Gauteng’s East Rand.
FTTH Council Africa CEO Juanita Clark says the moratorium on granting new way leaves — rights of way — is a “gross violation” of the rights of the holders of telecoms network licences as well as a violation of the Electronic Communications Act.
However, the municipality’s chief information officer, Lilian Phahla, tells TechCentral that the moratorium is strictly temporary and should be lifted again within a month.
Clark says the council, which represents a range of industry players, has given the municipality until Friday to respond, after which it will seek an urgent court order. It will also “consider further steps to recover commercial losses” from the municipality. “We welcome open communication and have always supported the private and public sectors equally and we welcome open dialogue with the municipality. However, we have demanded that the moratorium be lifted with immediate effect or [we will] seek relief elsewhere,” she says.
“The worst is that no reasons were given [by the municipality] and companies were just told to fill up trenches and get out of Ekurhuleni,” Clark says. “As a country, we cannot afford this and, as a democracy, it is unacceptable.”
The council has also raised the issue with communications department director-general Rosey Sekese. “We have great faith in the department to rectify the issue successfully,” she says.
But Phahla says the moratorium won’t last long and is needed so the municipality can audit all of the fibre in the ground in the region. She says Ekurhuleni has issued a tender for a company to conduct an audit of both the fibre that the municipality has installed itself and the fibre that has been provided by private-sector operators. The purpose is to prevent duplication of infrastructure, she says.
Ekurhuleni, with a population of more than 3m, covers vast swathes of the East Rand and includes business centres such as Kempton Park, Boksburg, Springs and Brakpan. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral
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