Telecommunications industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) will publish a discussion document this week in the Government Gazette outlining its thoughts on unbundling Telkom’s local loop, the copper lines that connect homes and businesses to the operator’s network.
Icasa has been working on a document to clarify its position on local-loop unbundling after suggesting Telkom’s copper infrastructure is already available to other players. “The discussion document was created by the committee dealing with local-loop unbundling,” says Icasa spokesman Paseka Maleka.
The authority told TechCentral in January that since Telkom’s local loop is considered an essential facility under the Electronic Communications Act, facilities leasing regulations, published in 2010, already allow rival operators access to it.
Icasa councillor Thabo Makhakhe, who is one of the members of the team tasked with dealing with local-loop unbundling, has said the authority would create a document that clarifies what aspects of the local loop other operators will have access to.
Telkom has slammed Icasa’s proposed use of facilities leasing regulations as a means of unbundling the local loop, saying its understanding of the legal definition of an essential facility is that it “cannot feasibly be substituted”. However, Telkom argues the mobile operators have created a substitute, which it calls the “wireless local loop”.
A complaint by Neotel appears set to be Icasa’s litmus test for using facilities leasing regulations. Neotel wants access to the local loop in terms of the regulations, but Telkom has denied its rival access.
The outcome of the complaint is still unknown, but it could make or break Icasa’s hopes of meeting a deadline set by communications minister Roy Padayachie to have the local loop unbundled by November. — Candice Jones, TechCentral