Updates to this thread on the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services thread

[28 April 2014] In a speech delivered to a meeting of SIP 15 on 24 April 2014 – We’re moving on broadband in difficult circumstances – but we need to be faster –  the Minister of Communications provided the following update on its progress in implementing the SA Connect Policy:

A conference of all public and private stakeholders on the faster implementation of SA Connect should be held by July. But to prepare the ground for this we may want to think of setting up preparatory structures made up of departmental, private sector and other stakeholders that would also consider shaping the agenda and programme of the Conference.

As many of you will know, the Broadband Implementation Plan is structured around the four prongs of the digital strategy in the policy: Digital Readiness, Digital Development, Digital Future and Digital Opportunity. The Broadband Steering Committee and five Task Teams consisting of different government stakeholders are seeking to expedite the finalisation of the implementation plan. 

The implementation framework outlines the following projects which have been completed or are underway:

  • An overall roadmap, stakeholder plan, technical plan, business case and procurement plan have been worked on. 
  • A Broadband governance structure has been established in consultation with government departments and state agencies. The Broadband Steering Committee (BSC) will provide consistent strategic oversight of the broadband implementation plan development process. The BSC will work closely with the NBAC.
  • An Inter-Governmental Project Team has been established on the rationalisation of the state-owned companies. 
  • Provinces and municipalities have been engaged on their provincial and municipal broadband plans with the aim of aligning them with SA Connect.  
  • User Requirements Specification (URS) for Schools, Health Facilities and Public facilities are being finalised in conjunction with the relevant departments. The URS will be used in the broadband network planning to specify current and future requirements by the various Departments.
  • A process to align the broadband planning process to the budget cycle in a phased approach has been adopted to ensure that a detailed infrastructure gap analysis is conducted before requesting funding from Treasury.

A detailed implementation plan for the Digital Development strategy has been developed. Due to the interdependencies between activities in the various prongs of  the SA Connect strategy, work is underway on several projects to remove the bottlenecks. This includes the development of the Rapid Deployment Policy, spectrum policy directions on broadband spectrum and the wholesale open access network approach.


[21 February 2014] The Department of Communications presented to the Portfolio Committee on Communications on 19 February 2014. The presentation comprises an overview of the history of the document as well as next steps for implementation.

DOC Presentation NBP 2013 PPC 19 February 2014

The presentation sets out South Africa’s broadband targets to 2030:


Target Penetration measure Baseline (2013) By 2016 By 2020 By 2030
Broadband access in Mbps user experience % of population 33.7% Internet access 50% at 5Mbps 90% at  5Mbps50% at 100Mbps 100% at 10Mbps80% at  100Mbps
Schools % of schools 25% connected 50% at 10 Mbps 100% at 10Mbps80% at 100Mbps 100% at 1Gbps
Health facilities % of health facilities 13%  connected 50% at 10Mbps 100% at 10Mbps80% at 100Mbps 100% at 1Gbps
Public sector facilities % of government offices 50% at 5Mbps 100% at 10Mbps 100% at 100Mbps

These targets are to be reviewed periodically and  supplemented by pricing and quality of service targets as well as speed of installation and fault repair.



[6 December 2013] As approved by Cabinet on 4 December 2013.

National Broadband Policy 2013 – South Africa Connect: Creating Opportunities, Ensuring Inclusion

Below is a summary of the four central strategies adopted in the Policy as well as a summary of the actual policy decisions taken by the Minister pursuant to the finalisation of the document.



Strategy Intervention

Aspects addressed by the strategy

Intended Outcomes


1. Digital Readiness
  • Institutional capacity
  • Regulation and administrative bottlenecks
  • Efficiency and effectiveness
  • Data and analysis for monitoring and evaluation and policy reformulation
  • Establishment of the National Broadband Council
  • Rationalisation of SOCs


  • An enabling regulatory and administrative environment that facilitates broadband rollout
  • Broader public interest preserved
  • Level playing fields with fair market conditions
  • Dedicated council to advise Minister on policy, planning and implementation
  • Autonomy, accountability and efficiency of regulator
  • Access, price and quality of broadband
  • Time and cost of network build approval
  • Degree of disruption due to network build
  • Environmental impact of network builds
  • Targets met
  • Coverage price
  • Autonomy, accountability and efficiency of regulator
  • Access, price and quality of broadband
  • Time and cost of network build approval
  • Degree of disruption due to network build
  • Environmental impact of network builds
  • Targets met
  • Coverage price
2. Digital Development
  • Pooling of public sector demand
  • Public sector networks
  • Open access to network regulation


  • High capacity future-proof network capacity procured for key public sector broadband needs at more affordable rates
  • Government’s on-going operational communications expenditure reduced through upfront capital expenditure
  • Risk of investment in network extensions for operators reduced through anchor tenancy


  • Speed, quality and cost of network capacity at Government facilities
  • Speed of rollout and quality of service
  • Network reach and price of access
  • Increased investment by network operators
  • Take up of services in public sector, schools and clinics
3. Building the digital future
  • Mechanisms for sharing of infrastructure
  • Coordination of infrastructure rollout
  • Enhanced use and licensing of spectrum


  • Where competition is viable this will produce the best outcomes but infrastructure sharing and cooperation to be enabled on network builds to reduce cost
  • Economies of scale enabled in medium density and low income areas through government investment and guarantees in network extensions


  • Network reach
  • Cost to communicate
  • Speed, quality and cost of network capacity
  • Speed of rollout
  • Increased investment by network operators
  • Improved penetration
4. Realising Digital opportunity
  • Capability and capacity
  • R&D, innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Industry development
  • Local content and applications


  • Uptake and use enabled through institutional capacity and individual capability and institutional absorption
  • More equitable access to higher quality government services
  • Reduce pressure on scarce public sector facilities by moving resources online
  • The benefits of broadband in terms of economic growth and enhanced quality of life is realised through relevant content and applications
  • Promote growth through enabling economic infrastructure and associated industrial development


Demand stimulation through:

  • Fund local content
  • Support apps to market
  • E-government services
  • ICT startups
  • Registration of ICT related patents
  • Increase demand side skills: ICT specialists, engineers, lawyers, economists
  • Number of PhDs in area of ICT
  • % of GDP spent on R&D
  • Increase demand-side skills: e-literacy campaign, ICT in school curriculum


Summary of policy decisions:


Issue Action
  • Currently low penetration, high prices, poor quality of service

  • ICASA to monitor and evaluate performance against the targets and compliance with quality of service standards on an ongoing basis, which are to be reported annually, and on which basis five year targets will be reviewed
Digital Readiness policy decisions
Market Structure

  • Vertically integrated incumbents hindering fair competition

  • Minister of Communications to consider the viability and impact on competition of establishing open access national wholesale fibre and wireless broadband networks through the establishment of a multi-player entity.
Institutional arrangements

  • Appointment process, funding arrangements, institutional design, capabilities and competencies produced negative outcomes

  • Review of the regulator and universal service agency governance structure, leadership appointment process and funding arrangements to ensure requisite capability to regulate
    • open access
    • spectrum
    • competition
Enabling infrastructure build

  • Hurdles and bottlenecks hampering broadband rollout

  • Authority for enforcement of Rapid Deployment Guidelines to be fast tracked and progressed through DoC and SIP 15 in consultation with ICASA. DoC to engage with DEA on the development of a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment for broadband infrastructure
  • DoC to engage with DEA on the development of a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment for broadband infrastructure

  • Delay in allocating high demand spectrum

  • Ministry to expedite policy directive to release high demand spectrum in ways that ensure efficient use, wholesale access and fair competition. ICASA to assign high demand spectrum
Legal and regulatory framework

  • Potential shortcomings in legislative support for Broadband policy

  • The Department will undertake a review of all relevant legislation and regulation required to enable implementation of this policy
Analysis, Information and indicators

  • Absence of indicators to inform national decision-making and inadequate reporting to UN and other multilateral agencies

  • ICASA to prepare information reporting regulations to ensure collection of ITU universal indicators
  • DoC to work with Stats SA on regular production of ICT satellite account from the national accounts to assess contribution of sector to national economy
  • DoC to budget for and manage demand survey to comply with UN commitments to Measuring the Information Society
Rationalisation of State-Owned Companies
  • SOCs rationalised to contribute more efficiently and effectively to national objective
  • The DoC, DPE, Treasury and the PICC to agree on appropriate transitional measures during the process to arrive at the rationalised entities.
Appointment of Broadband Council
  • Broadband Council, made up of public and private sector representatives and experts appointed by Minister
Digital Development Policy Decisions
Network planning and coordination

  • Coordination amongst all relevant role players to ensure optimal implementation and leverage of resources
  • DoC will coordinate implementation of the digital development projects to address broadband needs and to ensure sustainable rollout

  • DoC will coordinate implementation of the digital development projects to address broadband needs and to ensure sustainable rollout
Public Sector network

  • Enabling infrastructure for e- government and government administration

  • Requirements analysis, planning, design and mechanism to pool government demand for smart procurement of connectivity required across government and other public sector entities
Schools network

  • Urgently enable teaching and learning as well as school administration through broadband.

  • Requirements analysis, planning, design and implementation of a national schools network by an appointed agency
  • Establish institutional capacity in the Department of Basic Education or a relevant agency to enable uptake and use of broadband in the basic education environment
Health Network

  • Enable eHealth and National Health Insurance (NHI) for improved health outcomes

  • Requirements analysis, planning, design and implementation of a national health network by an appointed agency;
  • Establish institutional capacity in the Department of Health or a relevant agency to enable uptake and use of broadband in the health environment
Community networks

  • Rural and poor populations and underserved areas in general not well served by network infrastructure and services
  • Free public Wi-Fi at points reached by the public sector networks to stimulate demand by allowing people to access the internet, including government services and to support municipal-wide public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Collaborative initiative involving DoC, DRDLR, CoGTA and provinces to identify areas that require community network interventions and implementing such networks.
  • Integration of public Wi-Fi into the networks identified above
  • Fast-track implementation of Wi-Fi at public facilities by agencies responsible for these facilities and networks where the capacity already exists
Building the Digital Future Policy Decisions
Open Access Wireless Network

  • Creation of an open access wireless network
  • The Minister of Communications to consider the feasibility and operationalisation of the network
  • ICASA to assign spectrum in support of the policy
Open Access National Broadband Network

  • Models, design and roadmap towards a fibre rich Open Access National Broadband Network (NBN).
  • DoC facilitates process to conceptualise and develop the open access NBN
Digital Opportunity Policy Decisions
  • The DoC will ensure that research is done to determine the demand gap, i.e. barriers to broadband adoption to inform additional actions and demand-side targets
National capability

  • Requisite e-literacy and skills to use broadband

  • The DoC will engage with the
    • Department of Basic Education on integration of ICT into school curriculum
    • Department of Higher Education on integration of ICT into post matric curricula
    • DPSA to integrate ICT skills development as an administrative and delivery tool in all government
  • Department of Labour and SETAs to focus on adult e-literacy, youth development and sectoral programmes
R&D and innovation and Entrepreneurship

  • Development of high level skills and critical mass R&D capability to drive innovation


  • DoC will engage with relevant stakeholders to enable public and private investment in ICT R&D through implementation of the ICT RDI Roadmap
  • DoC will engage with relevant stakeholders for the development of professionals and postgraduates in multi-disciplinary programmes to meet the diverse skills requirements within the strengthen the ICT ecosystem
  • DoC will engage with relevant stakeholders to support entrepreneurship and innovation through a coordinated incubator and mobile applications laboratory programme
Content and Applications

  • Absence of local content, local production and innovation in content and applications
  • Establish a local content/public service content and apps production and innovation fund to incentivise public and private content development that is relevant, in local languages
  • Digitise existing government content
  • Government departments, private sector and NGOs to promote the awareness of locally developed applications and local content
  • DoC in consultation with relevant departments to develop Open Data policy to contribute to broader e-government strategy
  • DoC will identify mechanisms and ensure implementation of device subsidies for identified segments of the population



[22 October 2013]  A workshop on a new National Broadband Policy for South Africa will be held at the CSIR Convention Centre on Friday 25 October 2013. It appears that the previous process did not lead to a conclusive result and that the draft Policy has now been extensively reworked – we will publish an overview shortly.

The draft version for discussion at the workshop – Draft Broadband Policy 21 October 2013

Agenda for the workshop – Agenda for the National Broadband Policy Workshop – 25 October 2013


[7 April 2013] The Department of Communications has initiated a consultation on a new Broadband Policy for South Africa through the publication of a draft Broadband Policy in the Government Gazette on  3 April 2013. Comments may be submitted to the Department until midnight on 15 May 2013.
Consultation on National Broadband Policy April 2013

We have prepared an Overview of the Draft Broadband Policy 2013 This overview is not intended to be comprehensive and focuses on the actual policy indications (reproduced largely verbatim) made as well as implementation and institutional arrangements.

The policy, once finalised will replace the existing National Broadband Policy 2010 (as published on 13 July 2010). Somewhat strangely, no reference is made to this document in the new draft.