___[29 November 2019] ICASA has published a discussion document on Mobile Broadband Services Inquiry, setting out ICASA’s preliminary views on the definition of relevant mobile broadband services markets and the effectiveness of competition within these markets.
Comments are due by 6 February 2020. These can be sent to MarketInquiry2018@icasa.org.za.
ICASA identified five markets for investigation and set out their conclusions as follows:
- Retail product market for mobile services: this covers voice, data and SMS services provided to retail customers within a local or metropolitan municipal area. ICASA found that Vodacom was dominant in 110 municipalities, MTN in 78 and that no operator was dominant in 41 municipalities and that there were significant barriers to entry into these markets at services and facilities level because of a lack of competitive wholesale services and a concentrated market for site access. ICASA also noted that only two operators offer a full coverage roaming service and only one offers mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) services. Competitive failures in this market are to be addressed through interventions in the site access and roaming markets (see below).
- Spectrum (Upstream market #1): ICASA found that no licensees have substantially greater holdings than any other licensee and no licensee has SMP.
- Site access (Upstream market #2): in the market for site access at a local/metropolitan municipal level, ICASA found that competition was highly ineffective with high levels of concentration in 226 out of 234 municipalities. The proposed remedy to address this failure is the redrafting of the existing regulations on the leasing of electronic communications facilities, together with more detailed guidelines on their implementation. The latter would include mandatory information publication and a prohibition on indefinite reservations of space. ICASA is also considering enforcing an accounting separation regime to allow it to enforce transparency and non-discrimination obligations.
- Roaming (Upstream market #3): in the market for roaming at a local/metropolitan municipal level ICASA found ineffective competition in that only Vodacom and MTN are present in many municipalities. Pro-competitive measures under consideration include mandatory roaming offers for areas in which a licensee is dominant and accounting separation.
- MVNO / wholesale APN services (Upstream market #4): ICASA’s view is that issues with competition in this market will be addressed in upstream markets #2 and #3 (site access and roaming) but still finds that there is ineffective competition as only one network offers MVNO services and APN prices are high relative to retail prices. ICASA will continue to monitor the success of measures in other markets in promoting competition in this market and intervene in future if necessary.
ICASA indicated that it would continue to engage with the Competition Commission to ensure alignment between this process and the Data Service Market Inquiry undertaken by the Commission. The final outcomes of that Inquiry are to be published on 2 December 2019.
___[14 March 2019] ICASA has granted an extension for the submission of written representations on the Notice, questionnaire and/or requests for information to 29 March 2019 (previously 11 March 2019).
___[09 January 2019] ICASA has released an updated response to questions of clarity raised by licensees regarding the market inquiry into mobile broadband services, as can be found at the link below:
___[27 December 2018] Answers to questions of clarity on the Notice launching this process were published by ICASA on 21 December 2018.
___[16 November 2018] ICASA has given notice of its intention to investigate levels of competition in the mobile data services value chain and to assess whether any regulatory interventions are required in order to stimulate competition.
Phases and timelines
The process is to unfold as set out in the table below, with the intention to bring it to a conclusion by 31 March 2020.
Note that ICASA may introduce additional phases or steps, where necessary, to ensure clear communication with stakeholders and may conduct industry workshops or public briefing sessions in relation to matters of process.
|1||Commencement and information gathering through the Notice, a questionnaire and requests for information (16 November 2018)|
|Submit questions of clarity on process, questionnaire and/or request for information||10 calendar days||25 November 2018|
|ICASA responds to questions of clarity||10 calendar days||5 December 2018 (actual 21 Dec)
Revised responses 8 January 2019
|Submission of written representations on the Notice, questionnaire and/or requests for information||45 working days||12 February 2019
Revised: 29 March 2019
|ICASA may requests one-on-one meetings to clarify submissions|
|2||Publication of Discussion Document|
|Submission of written representations on the Discussion Document||45 working days||?|
|3||Public hearings on Discussion Document|
|To be advised by ICASA if it deems these necessary|
|4||Publication of Findings Document and Draft Regulations|
|Submission of written representations on the Findings Document and Draft Regulations||30 working days||?|
|5||Public Hearings on Draft Regulations|
|To be advised by ICASA if it deems these necessary|
|6||Publication of Final Regulations and Reasons Document|
*to be confirmed
What will the outcome be?
The Final Regulations referred to in the table would potentially cover:
- Definitions of the relevant wholesale and retail markets in the mobile broadband services value chain;
- A determination as to whether there is effective competition in these markets;
- Where competition is determined to be ineffective in a market, a determination as to whether any licensees have significant market power (SMP) in that market;
- Pro-competitive obligations to be imposed on licensees with SMP designed to remedy the identified market failure;
- A schedule for the review of the defined markets; and
- Mechanisms for monitoring and investigation anti-competitive behaviour in these markets.
If any of the material you want to submit is confidential then there is a process to apply for confidentiality.
Any queries or written submissions must be sent to:
Chairperson: Market Inquiry Council Committee
Councillor Botlenyana Mokhele
Block C 350 Witch-Hazel Avenue, Eco Point Office Park, Eco Park, Centurion
Tel: 012 568 3125 Fax: 012 568 3126