The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has announced that it wants to complete local-loop unbundling (LLU) regulations by 4 March next year at the latest.
Unbundling the local loop was originally meant to be completed by November 2011. Subsequent deadlines have also been missed.
LLU is just one of the issues a new “cost to communicate” initiative, unveiled by Icasa on Friday, is meant to address. It will also look at price transparency in the communications and broadcasting industries and at mobile termination rates — the fee operators charge one another to carry calls between their networks.
Grootes says the regulator is taking the Electronic Communications Act as its starting point for LLU and that the act is an “an open-access act”, referring to the requirement for telecommunications companies to share their networks.
The act requires the regulator to “promote and facilitate the development of interoperable and interconnected electronic networks”.
“LLU will allow for innovative services, efficient utilisation of infrastructure, and will benefit both access seekers and providers,” Grootes says. “We must get the pipes in the ground used.”
Telkom has long argued that it faces an “access-line deficit” — in terms of which it loses money on every line in service before value-added services are sold — and that Icasa had to take this into account before implementing any form of unbundling. Icasa has been investigating the effects of the access-line deficit.
Icasa has appointed Christian Mahlangu to head its cost-to-communicate programme. Mahlangu says the regulator has “gone through all the consultations” required and reiterates that it will be guided by the Electronic Communications Act. Mahlangu says all forms of unbundling are being considered, not only the most basic form, “bit-stream access”, which Icasa had been favouring until now. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media