Government plans to establish a Broadband Inter-Governmental Implementation Committee to oversee and coordinate SA’s national broadband strategy and implementation. Government has said it wants to achieve universal broadband access in SA by 2020.
The proposed committee will be tasked with monitoring and measuring broadband penetration in SA, recommending measures to increase uptake and use, making the public aware of the benefits of broadband access, and annually assessing the status of broadband penetration in SA.
Details of the committee are outlined in the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, which was published last week. The public can provide written comment on the bill until the end of August.
Dominic Cull, regulatory advisor for the Internet Service Providers’ Association, says the idea of a dedicated committee has come up before, in the National Broadband Policy document, and there is an urgent need for better coordination between the different spheres of government when it comes to broadband.
“There’s a disjuncture between the strategy on a provincial and local level, and the strategy on a national level,” Cull says.
It’s premature, he says, to know whether the proposed committee is a good or bad idea because there is insufficient information about the composition and functions of the committee in the amendment bill.
“But it does speak to the need for a great deal more coordination and strategic planning around broadband, and this is a good thing.”
Cull says it’s “strange” that the plan to create a focused committee comes months after the announcement of government’s 2020 broadband penetration target. “One would think the strategy would precede the target. It’s all good and well setting targets when you have no idea how to reach them,” he says, but adds that committees such as the one proposed will hopefully spell out government’s approach in more detail.
“If all that this committee does is ensure better communication and planning between government, state-owned companies, municipalities, provincial government and other players, it will at least have achieved something,” he says.
Cull says that one of the problems until now has been the poor relationship between provinces and the department of communications. This has resulted in provinces and municipalities creating broadband projects of their own accord and has seen “duplication of effort” on account of a “lack of clear leadership”. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media