Despite requesting it, Telkom has still not formally received a copy of the written interim order by the Independent Communications Authority of SA’s (Icasa’s) complaints and compliance committee that caused a storm of controversy this week.
On Wednesday, Telkom issued a media statement in which it took exception to an alleged leak by Icasa councillor William Stucke of the written order in a case that could accelerate the unbundling of the telecommunications operator’s copper wires into homes and businesses.
The order followed a complaint brought by rival Neotel, which wants access, as a starting point, to Telkom’s Rosebank and Benmore telephone exchanges in northern Johannesburg.
Making clear its concerns about the alleged leak, Telkom said it expected that “any person found responsible for such despicable conduct” would be “dealt with severely”.
According to a 3 August newspaper report, Icasa had called in the State Security Agency to investigate the claims that a councillor leaked the information to a third party. Business Day quoted unnamed sources as saying that Stucke had “allegedly confessed” to the security agency. However, on Wednesday he denied this, saying he has had “no interaction” with the agency.
He also denied he had acted improperly and said he would “cooperate with the investigation process”.
Telkom, which based its statement on the newspaper report, warned the alleged leak represented a “possible violation of due process” which could “unavoidably jeopardise the trust and confidence of the industry in the regulatory processes”.
The document has already been circulated widely in the public domain and TechCentral has had a copy of it since June. The order was also read out at the Icasa committee’s hearing in May, which was open to members of the public.
But adding a new dimension to the saga, Telkom on Thursday said it had still not been furnished with a written copy of the complaints and compliance committee’s order, despite requesting one. The verbal order was read out nearly three months ago.
Telkom argued that due process appeared not to have been followed as the written order was “leaked” to an unnamed industry body that was not party to the complaint before it was made available through the correct channels.
The interim order — depending on how it is interpreted — has potentially serious implications for Telkom as opening its “last-mile” local loop to rival operators could undermine its financial position. Icasa is running a separate regulatory process to open the local loop using a phased approach that will be less damaging to Telkom than immediate and full local-loop unbundling.
Telkom said the fact that the complaints and compliance committee’s interim order made its way into the public domain, before the company had received it, was of “grave concern”.
In terms of the Icasa Amendment Act, the complaints committee must make all of its notices, proceedings and findings available for inspection by the public at the authority’s offices. The order that was allegedly leaked was not available in the library at Icasa’s offices in Sandton when TechCentral visited on Friday morning. The only document relating to the case was a transcript of the complaints and compliance committee’s hearings.
Nomvuyiso Batyi, the councillor appointed by Icasa as a member of the complaints and compliance committee, could not be reached for comment on Friday about why the written order had not been issued to Telkom. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media