[3 March 2014] The following are the outcomes – as we understand them – of the informal workshop held at ICASA on the 18th February:
- There is scope for a trial of LLU to take place at a currently underutilised rural Telkom exchange. This will be arranged and a working group is to be established (comprising TSA, IS and the MNOs).
- Interested parties will be afforded until 31 March to submit further comments on the draft LLU Regulations with particular reference to providing a detailed alternative set of regulations.
- There was opposition to the provisions of the draft regulations relating to unbundling of the wireless local loop (WLL) with the MNOs pointing to the legal and technical difficulties while Neotel were clear that LLU as a regulatory remedy should be focused on fixed networks and related to the shortage of access options available to licensees.
- Interested parties will also have until 31 March to make submissions on the queries raised by ICASA in its media release dated 14 February 2014 (see previous report).
- Telkom indicated that they had been hoping for the LLU hearings to proceed as they had information relating to the socio-economic impact of LLU which they wanted to present. There will instead be a private meeting between ICASA and Telkom to discuss this information.
It is likely that there will be further workshops and we are awaiting further clarity from ICASA as to the future process to be followed.
[15 February 2014] ICASA has cancelled public hearings into the Draft LLU Regulations and stated that it will instead hold a public workshop on the 18th February 2014 to consider “Wholesale Access under Chapter 8 of the ECA”.
A Media Release On LLU Public Hearings 18 Feb 2014 sets out the reasons for this decision and provides a set of questions to be considered at the workshop.
“The goal of Chapter 8, mandating wholesale access (with a particular emphasis on broadband) is to facilitate direct access to consumers at commercial rates on a non-discriminatory basis, and to prevent duplication where it would represent unnecessary investment.
The Authority puts forward the following questions to guide the discussion. Stakeholders are requested to prepare presentations/submissions on their views. These inputs will be used to advance the regulation-making process.
- The Electronic Communications Act defines radio apparatus as a facility. However, radio apparatus is only useful in combination with Spectrum, which means that the wireless local loop is a facility. What would be your view?
- Is there a difference in the way Chapter 8 applies to active facilities versus passive facilities?
- From a conceptual point of view, is there a difference between copper, fibre and wireless last mile access? What are the implications of the practical differences?
- What measures and methods would make the leasing of last mile access simpler and cheaper for all parties?
- What additional issues need to be considered?
The workshop will be held as follows:
Date: 18 February 2014
Time: 09:00– 16:00
Venue: ICASA Head Office, Pinmill Farm, Block C Presentation Room
[23 January 2013] Below are links to submissions made in response to the publication of the Draft LLU Regulations. Note that these submissions were made prior to the publication of the Explanatory Note.
[11 December 2013] Somewhat bizarrely, ICASA on 6 December 2013 published an Explanatory Note on the draft regulations originally published in September this year. The draft regulations made reference to this document but it has taken some three months to finalise it. Many interested parties have already made a submission on the draft regulations without reference to the Explanatory Note and will now be required to make a further submission by 23 January 2014.
ICASA intends to hold public hearings from 17 to 19 February 2014.
Of particular interest is the section dealing with what ICASA refers to as Telkom’s “purported” Access Line Deficit.
[9 September 2013] Oh dear. ICASA have issued a media release which confirms that a critical page of definitions was omitted from the draft which was published. It has therefore been withdrawn and will be published again. The text of the media release is set out below.
While ellipsis is not given to conspiracy theories, it does seem odd that the page numbering of the draft regulations does not indicate a missing page….
“06 September 2013 Johannesburg – The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa hereby informs all stakeholders and the media that due to an error in publication of a page of definitions in the draft “Bitstream and Shared/Full Loop” Regulations on 7th August 2013, the Authority hereby repeals these regulations and a revised set of regulations will be published in due course. The submission deadline for all proposals is now thirty (30) days from publication of the re-issued regulations.”
[21 August 2013] Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) in South Africa took another lurching step forward with the publication by ICASA of a set of draft regulations which, according to ICASA, seek to “facilitate the conclusion of electronic communications facilities leasing agreement with particular emphasis on facilities that are to be offered in an unbundled form and to further provide for the requirements for the interconnection between and leasing of local loop facilities”.
Interested parties have until 9 September 2013 to make their written submissions, subsequent to which the Authority will communicate details of the public hearings.