Government may be taking a step in that direction after telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele said on Wednesday that he intends directing communications regulator Icasa to develop regulations in respect of access to premium content.
The intention, Cwele told parliament, is to “regulate how different broadcasters should access premium content for their services”.
“This premium content relates to … sports rights, films and other content previously accessed through exclusive terms.”
Cwele also announced a range of measures he said are designed to reduce the cost of communications in South Africa and to make it simpler for consumers to understand what they’re paying for.
The minister said his department will work with Icasa to conclude a broadband value market study, the outcome of which will be used to assist the authority to develop regulations on broadband pricing. Cwele did not say whether there will be an attempt to regulate retail or wholesale prices.
In addition, the telecoms department will conduct a “national roaming study” before the end of March next year to “determine the cost implications of discriminatory behaviour, particularly for new entrants and smaller operators”.
Finally, by the end of September this year, Cwele will ask Icasa to develop regulations on pricing transparency. These regulations will allow consumers to have a “clear understanding of the true cost of the services they pay for”.
“In this manner, the true cost of a service will be disclosed upfront to enable consumers to exercise their choices,” he said.
Turning to telecoms infrastructure, Cwele said there is a need to avoid duplication of both public and private infrastructure, the costs of which are ultimately passed on to end users.
“To address these bottlenecks, we will seek to address Icasa to formulate regulations for infrastructure and facilities sharing. These regulations will look into how the public networks can be offered on a common carrier basis so as to facilitate cost savings and the entry of many players and the enhancement of competition,” he said.
“Government is committed to the establishment of an open-access regime that allows those without access to critical public input resources like spectrum, wayleaves, rights of way and high sites, to enter the market on the same conditions as those who own the infrastructure.
“To this end, the department will finalise, by October this year, a study on the open-access network that will inform how critical resources can be leveraged to ensure a competitive and open market that will unleash competition to drive down the cost to communicate in South Africa.”
Cwele said it is in “our national interest to grow this sector and promote competition in order to drive down costs and create more job opportunities”. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media