Internet body backs move to single wireless network

Johannesburg – South Africa’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has welcomed government’s National ICT Policy White Paper, calling it “broadly positive”.

The policy, which calls on mobile networks to give up key spectrum to a single, countrywide wireless network, has received mixed reaction from industry role players.

READ: SA’s ICT white paper ‘potentially dangerous’ – Telkom

ISPA, the body which facilitates the exchange between the different independent internet service providers, the communications department, regulator Icasa and other service providers in country, urged that the focus should shift to how the proposals in the white paper will be implemented.

“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,” said ISPA regulatory adviser Dominic Cull.

“The policy revision is long overdue and many issues have been held back by the delays in finalising it. While we understand that some of the proposed interventions will not be universally welcomed, we now need to get a move on,” Cull added.

READ: Department puts ICT White Paper in context

However, the ISPA and its 178 Internet Service Provider (ISP) members expressed concern over implementation and practice of the policy.

The association’s primary concern is that the white paper does not provide a convincing outline of how shortcomings in capacity and expertise of the regulator, or policy maker, will be addressed.

“ISPA agrees with comments by the acting director general of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services that there is a need for the status quo in the telecommunications industry to be upended, but this will not happen unless the status quo at the policymaker and regulator are also upended,” Cull said.

“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.”

READ: ‘We don’t want to kill SA’s mobile industry’ – Cwele

Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele on Monday defended the policy in a speech at the GovTech conference in Johannesburg.

He said government does not want to kill the industry, but rather wants to make it accessible to more entrepreneurs who could bring greater competition to the market.

Source: Internet body backs move to single wireless network

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