White paper 'broadly positive': ISP body - TechCentral

White paper ‘broadly positive’: ISP body

Dominic Cull

Dominic Cull

A body that represents the bulk of South Africa’s Internet service provider community has described government’s national integrated ICT policy white paper as “broadly positive”, but warned against lack of proper implementation.

The white paper, which has drawn fire from industry analysts and from the big mobile operators over a plan to create a single national wholesale wireless open-access network and to assign all future mobile spectrum to this entity, is “forward-looking” and “long overdue”, said Internet Service Providers’ Association regulatory advisor Dominic Cull in a statement.

“In general, the white paper is broadly positive and forward-looking, and it reflects a much better understanding of contemporary electronic communications and related markets,” Cull said.

“While we understand that some of the proposed interventions will not be universally welcomed, we now need to get a move on.”

The association represents 178 ISPs.

Though Cull welcomed the publication of the white paper and its content, he said the association is worried about its implementation. The association’s main concern is that the white paper “does not convincingly outline how the capacity and expertise shortcomings of the regulator, or policy maker, will be addressed”.

“Our fundamental reservation is that the white paper still does not address the inability of the current institutional structures to implement its provisions,” he said.

The association said it agrees with acting director-general of telecommunications & postal services Joe Mjwara — who spearheaded development of the white paper — that the status quo in the sector must be “upended”. But this will not happen unless the status quo at the policy maker and the regulator is also upended.

“For example, while measures to change the funding model of the regulator are relevant, the fact that we need to increase its budget dramatically and ensure that it has the necessary skills to implement evidence-based interventions is not accorded the prominence it requires,” Cull said. “Historical failure to implement policy is reflected in the fact that most of the proposals in the white paper are not new.”

He said the association now hopes attention will shift to providing proper resources and skills to the regulator and policy maker so that implementation of the white paper does not take “another decade”.  — © 2016 NewsCentral Media


  1. Looks Suspicious on

    This is the second time I’m aware of that the smaller players have either come out in support of the white paper or against the idea of an auction. We should be paying closer attention to them, since they will help change the market with healthy competition.

  2. Dear Mr Cull,

    Do you really believe that government has a track record that suggests it has the ability to pull off what hasn’t been done anywhere else in the world?

    King regards,


  3. Greg Mahlknecht on

    I’m not convinced of that – the proposed wireless model is pretty much the same as how Telkom works right now – a single state-owned entity controlling the spectrum and wholesaling it off – if you like the way ISPs have dealt with Telkom ADSL and Telkom-based FTTH (versus the new open access ftth providers where prices are 50% cheaper than Telkom) you have reason to love the white paper’s idea.

    In theory it’s great, but I agree with Dominic in that it probably won’t be implemented correctly.

    Government has control of the copper lines – some factions tried for control of the broadcast airwaves via the encryption proposal and a state-controlled body that would run it, and I see this as another way for government to get control of another line of communication – which is very worrying considering some of the proposals for internet censorship we’ve seen come out of them over the years. Right now my home fiber goes from my house and leaves the country and does not pass through even 1 meter of state controlled/owned/partially owned assets, which is why I’m getting 1st world service for 1st world prices.

  4. Dear Dave. Are you happy with the status quo? I am not a fan of the less than sterling performance of government in a number of areas, but the truth of the matter is that we cannot keep going in the same way and expect different results. The “market” is controlled by two entities, both of whom have given the public the thickest middle finger in terms pricing and service, no matter how they try and spin it. The removal of barriers of entry to smaller players must be encouraged, and this is a definite step in the right direction. I won’t comment on implementation, because govt’s role as i see it is legislation and policy. Implementation should be left to the telco players.

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