The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services is hosting a workshop on the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill which aims to prepare the country for digital industrial revolution and contribute to lowering the cost to communicate
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services is hosting a two day workshop with the respondents to the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill which is one of the legislations that seek to give effect to the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper. The Amendment Bill forms part of government’s efforts to create an enabling environment for the digital industrial revolution and contribute in lowering the costs to communicate.
Key issues in the Bill include the introduction of an open access regime in the licensing of spectrum to promote competition, remove entry barriers and lower the cost of communications services.
In particular, the Bill proposes the creation of a Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN), as a wholesaler to provide capacity to existing and new entities thus creating an environment for innovation and transformation. This is critical in our drive towards spreading innovations such as the Internet of Things should reach the entire country.
Of the 43 respondents to the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, 23 are scheduled to present their key arguments today. These respondents include the Independent Communications Authority of SA, Vodacom, Nokia, Cell C, MTN, SMMEs, industry associations, organised business, government and individuals.
We welcome the opportunity to engage on difficult issues with all interested stakeholder because we have to answer difficult questions as a country, said Director General Robert Nkuna.
He said one of the main reasons for public consultation is to assess socio-economic benefits of the proposed amendments and evaluate which proposals are workable.
At the end of the day, we need to quickly process laws which will enable us, for an example, to allocate spectrum in the next financial year, he said.
The workshop takes forward the pronouncement by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the 2018 State of the Nation Address to finalise engagements with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to ensure that the allocation of spectrum reduces barriers to entry, promotes competition and reduces the cost to consumers.
The workshop also underscores the Department’s commitment to meaningful engagements with all stakeholders to develop policies to modernise the sector and news ways of connecting as many people to affordable and reliable internet, as the digital industrial revolution beckons.
Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Dr Siyabonga Cwele has on numerous occasions indicated that public consultations are about finding the most suitable ways of implementing the ICT Policy.
He has also said this means that the sector must be opened to new entrants without killing the current players. He has also said that spectrum may not be returned before the expiry of the current licensing period.
The department aim to introduce the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill later this year.
Source: Government of South Africa