Wednesday, April 21, 2010

South Africa - minister to present new laws on telecommunications

[itweb] Communication minister Siphiwe Nyanda will present at least three new laws to Parliament for debate this year, and a number of policy directives will be issued to the communication regulator to unbundle the local loop.

Speaking during his Parliamentary budget vote speech yesterday, Nyanda said the new draft laws would be an Electronic Communications Amendment Bill that will seek to align it with ministerial directives and clear up ambiguity on some definitions, and to include the creation of strategic support structures, such as a Tariff Advisory Council.

He said the law governing the telecommunications and broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA), would also be amended with the aim of “further strengthening the governance framework of the regulator”.

The third law would be a Public Service Broadcasting Bill, which would seek to align the public broadcasting system to the development goals of the country and to provide an optimum funding model for the public broadcaster, the SA Broadcasting Corporation.

Nyanda went on to say that the Local Content Strategy would be finalised once the South African Local Content Advisory Council had been appointed. “The purpose of the strategy is to promote the development of local content, as well as identification of niche economic opportunities in the sector,” he said.

Soccer safety

In his speech, Nyanda said the major telecommunications companies would supply 80 000 “mobile units” to the police and other emergency services to be used at the 2010 Soccer World Cup stadiums.

“Additional beneficiaries of the other obligations will be identified in the course of the year. This is line with the department's contribution to government priority on ensuring safety for the public,” he said.

Nyanda also called on all the major telecommunications operators to complete their social delivery obligations that came with their licences as soon as possible.

He pointed out that ICASA had followed the directive he had issued last year to reduce the cost of mobile termination rates (also known as the interconnection rates) that saw the cost drop from 125c per minute to 89c per minute.

Nyanda said the next phase of cost cutting measures should involve the retail market that supplies services directly to consumers, adding: “...Cabinet has adopted the department's programmes of action on initiatives to reduce cost to communicate (sic).”

A stable regulatory regime is necessary to address key ICT developmental challenges, he added.

“ICASA will, therefore, need to focus critically on the following: regulatory certainty, liberalisation, promotion of ICT sector; aligning its structure, leadership and culture with the strategy of licensing for new services, and achieving universal service and access,” he concluded.

Nyanda to present new laws

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