The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) on Wednesday published a framework for the unbundling of Telkom’s fixed-line local loop of copper-cable infrastructure into homes and businesses. It has proposed a phased introduction of unbundling, which will unfold over a period of years.
Icasa chairman Stephen Mncube delivered the following statement (slightly abridged) at a press conference at the company’s Sandton offices:
- Local-loop unbundling is an intervention that offers significant advantages to operators and consumers However, it also involves significant challenges for operators, especially the incumbent.
- The existence of an access-line deficit is a significant obstacle to the introduction of fixed-line local-loop unbundling.
- The authority will therefore take a phased approach to the introduction of local-loop unbundling.
- As a first step, the authority will undertake public consultation process to address access-line deficit recovery scheme. This will commence in February 2012.
- The authority will engage with industry to ensure price of IP Connect [the way third-party Internet service providers connect into Telkom’s network] is reduced. It is expected this will be with effect from 31 March next year.
- The authority will engage with industry to ensure a true bit-stream product is introduced by 1 November 2012. Bit-stream is generally considered the first step of local-loop unbundling and was requested by a number of stakeholders.
- In order to facilitate the introduction of bit-stream, the authority will establish an industry working group to address technical issues, including establishment of an ordering system specification mechanism. This will convene starting in February next year.
- The authority will conduct a regulatory impact assessment on the cost and benefits of the fixed-line loop, sub-loop and shared-line forms of local-loop unbundling commencing in mid-2012.
- Thereafter, depending on the outcome of the regulatory impact assessment, the authority will conduct market review on fixed-line access market and introduce supplementary local-loop unbundling regulations.
- The authority will undertake an inquiry into unbundling of wireless access networks.
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