On 19 August 2019 the Portfolio Committee for Communications heard from the Deputy Minister of Digital Communications and Technologies on the progress made in effecting the merger of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and the Department of Communications.
__[7 July 2019] The DTPS presented its Annual Performance Plan (APP) in Parliament on 3 July 2019, setting out its priorities for the short term (to 31 March 2019) and the medium-term (to 31 March 2021).
The DTPS identified the following priorities (not comprehensive):
- Policies and legislation
- Digital Development Fund Bill
- Big Data and Cloud Policy
- Review of Integrated ICT Policy White Paper
- Development and submission of State IT Company Bill to Cabinet for approval (re-purposing of SITA)
- Development and submission of State ICT infrastructure Company Bill to Cabinet for approval
- Development of draft WRC-19 Outcomes Report to inform review of the National Radio Frequency Plan
- Monitoring provision of Broadband Services to 570 connected sites (SA National Broadband Network)
- Coordinating roll-out of Broadband Services to additional 400 sites (SA National Broadband Network)
- Maintaining operations of the Rapid Deployment National Co-ordination Centre
- Monitoring operations of the Cybersecurity Hub
- National e-Strategy
- Development of the Country Plan for 4IR coordinated through the Presidential Commission on 4IR
- Development of the framework for Smart Communities for SA
____[3 March 2019]The Statement of Estimated National Expenditure (ENE) for the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services indicates that – over the medium term – the Department will focus on:
- implementing the 2016 White Paper on National Integrated ICT Policy by introducing prioritised legislation to Parliament, including the Electronic Communications and Transactions Amendment Bill, the ICT Sector Commission and Tribunal Bill, and the Digital Development Fund Bill.
- implementing the ICT small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) development strategy, the national e-strategy and the e-government strategy.
- implementing the South Africa Connect broadband policy; and
- implementing the rationalisation of its public entities, improving the performance of the entities under the department’s portfolio, and promoting innovation and transformation of the ICT sector as a catalyst for economic growth.
[16 November 2018] Responses by the Department to questions posed in respect of the SA Connect presentation can be found at the link below.
___[6 November 2018] The Department presented a further update on the implementation of phase 1 of SA Connect. It is noteworthy that this presentation is far more detailed than previous efforts, including information on broadband initiatives being undertaken by DTPS, Provincial Governments and the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA).
__[4 June 2018] The Department provided an update on the (lack of) progress in implementing the South Africa Connect policy to establish a National Broadband Network on 22 May 2018.
__[20 May 2018] The Minister and Deputy Minister presented their budget speeches to Parliament on 17 May 2018.
___[21 February 2018] Treasury has published the Estimate of National Expenditure (ENE) for the Department, which sets out it’s the budget and spending plans for the period 2018/2019 to 2020/1. Government spending is detailed in a three-year medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF), which is updated annually through the publication of an ENE.
The main take-away is that funding for the South Africa Connect National Broadband Plan has been substantially reduced: 100 government sites are to be connected in 2017/18, none in 2018/19 and 750 and 45 respectively are planned for the following two financial years. Budget has been allocated to commence with maintenance of existing deployments in 2020/21. Funding is also being cut to the digital migration project.
The department’s total budget is expected to decrease over the MTEF period, from R5.2 billion in 2017/18 to R1.1 billion in 2020/21. This is due to a once-off allocation of R3.7 billion in 2017/18 to the ICT Enterprise Development and Public Entities Oversight programme for the recapitalisation of the South African Post Office; and Cabinet approved budget reductions over the medium term of R1.7 billion to the South Africa Connect broadband project, and R764 million to the Universal Service and Access Fund for the broadcasting digital migration project.
___[22 September 2017] The Department presented its strategy on the rationalisation of State-Owned Companies in the ICT sector to the Portfolio Committee on 5 September 2017.
According to the Department, the main objective of rationalisation is to move from a fragmented mode of service delivery to a more consolidated approach by grouping entities into two structures:
- Broadband infrastructure entities would be consolidated to form the State ICT Infrastructure Company or National Broadband Network Company (“NBN Co”); and
- ICT service entities would be folded into the State IT Company, which would cover research and development; innovation; localisation (local procurement and open source); cybersecurity; procurement of IT products and services; e-Government implementation; and IT services management.
__[22 September 2017] The Department has published its Annual Report for the 2016/17 financial year.
___[5 September 2017] The DTPS presented to the Standing Appropriations Committee on progress with and funding of the national broadband network to be deployed under the SA Connect Policy.
___[21 June 2017] The DTPS presented to the Portfolio Committee for Telecommunications and Postal Services on 13 June 2017 regarding its progress in implementing the National Broadband Policy – South Africa Connect.
Vote 32 Telecommunications and Postal Services 2017_18
[15 October 2016] The Department presented its Annual Report for the 2015/16 financial year to the Portfolio Committee for Telecommunications and Postal Services on 11 October 2016.
___[18 September 2016] The Minister and Deputy-Minister appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services on 15 September 2016 to brief it on the progress being made with the roll-out.
- There is a cumulative budget shortfall of R367 million from the current financial year to 2018/19, which means fewer sites than planned for will be reached.
- DTPS continues to engage with National Treasury to remove funding constraints.
- DTPS through Cabinet has established the “Broadband War Room” in order to accelerate implementation. This comprises Directors-General from different departments, including the Presidency.
- The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) had issued a tender to procure broadband services to connect government facilities in the Phase 1 district municipalities (6 135 sites) (see below).
- The business case for Phase 2 is “about to be finalised” for submission to Treasury and will be submitted to Treasury (covering 35 211 government sites in 44 district municipalities).
___[14 July 2016] The State Information Technology Agency (“SITA”) has sent out a request for tender for the provision of broadband connectivity in Gauteng Province to provide broadband access to certain government facilities located across 8 district municipalities identified for Phase 1 implementation of the SA Connect program.
The request appeared on 24 June in Tender Bulletin 2922 and the closing date for bids is 18 July 2016. An extract of the tender request can be seen below (please click through for the full resolution image):
____[19 April 2016] The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services led the presentation of the Department on its 2016 Strategic Plan & Annual Performance Plan before the Portfolio Committee on 5 April 2016.
- The Department continued to operate under capacity constraints and as a result had reviewed its priorities and reduced its strategic objectives from the previous year
- The four strategic priority focus areas for the Department were broadband, the ICT policy review, the national e -strategy and e- government.
- Specific interventions for 2016/17 include:
- developing integrated information communication technology (ICT) legislation
- developing a comprehensive and integrated national e-strategy to facilitate the growth of all related sectors.
- implementing phase 1 of the broadband roll out to 2 700 sites
- reviewing the national radio frequency plan
- developing an ICT small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) support strategy, and
- considering state-owned company (SOC) rationalisation to boost the role of SOCs in broadband.
___[15 December 2015] During the course of a recent speech the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, the following insight was provided into progress with SA Connect implementation:
- Government has taken a decision to rationalise its five ICT State Owned Entities – Telkom, Sentech, Broadband Infraco, SITA and USAASA – in order to create an open access national broadband network.
- Telkom as the lead agency is providing services and service discounts as follows:
Telkom is offering a network platform that is robust, future proof, high Quality of Service (QoS), and scalable, leveraging available network infrastructure, to connect 50% of government facilities by end of 2016 and 80% by 2019 to 10Megabit per second. The migration of current services with lower speeds to the higher speeds.
Telkom is also offering Government a special average rate of 47% discount on wholesale price when compared with similar solutions offered by Telkom to its wholesale customer base. Uncapped basic internet through a managed offering that will include a dedicated contact centre to monitor and resolve service disruptions. Cost based wholesale price with a negotiated special rate for government that is below any market offer. Contracted network and services availability with penalties for failure to honour the contract terms.
Speech by the Deputy Minister of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Honourable Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize
During The Telecommunication & Media Forum
At Radisson Blue Hotel
08 December 2015
___[5 November 2015] The Portfolio Committee for Telecommunications and Postal Services has adopted its Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) for the former Department of Communications and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS), covering the period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015.
___[4 October 2015] Where are we with the implementation of SA Connect (based on public information)?
- For the current financial year – 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 the DTPS was allocated R200 million to begin connectivity in the eight districts identified by the President for the pilot (first) phase of implementation.
- The DTPS has only developed “draft technical specifications taking into consideration the infrastructure and technologies available” for phase one of the digital development plan.
- DTPS has recognised there is a need to re-align and integrate the provincial broadband plans to those of the SA Connect programme and restated the importance of provincial structures in implementing the Policy. Provincial broadband plans will be incorporated into SA Connect at phase two.
- DTPS has developed a business case for funding of the second phase of rollout of broadband networks, which is being considered by National Treasury
- Groundwork in the eight pilot district municipalities has commenced in collaboration with Telkom
What are the next steps?
- Presumably finalising the draft technical specifications
- Announcement of the lead agency for implementation
- Phase 2 of the digital development pillar – intended to commence in the 2016/7 financial year aims to cover the entire country with a planned 2 296 connected government institutions and 1 572 connected schools by 2017/18
___[8 August 2015]
___[27 July 2015] The Deputy-Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services – who often appears to be the only politician doing her job in the industry – covered a lot of ground during the course of a speech – Finding opportunities to increase broadband adoption in South Africa – delivered on 7 July 2015 at the WITS South Africa Connected Round Table Discussions, part of WITS Internet Week.
The Minister revealed that a gap analysis undertaken in 2013 had indicated the following:
- Telkom has the largest fibre footprint, mostly above-ground along poles next to roads. Telkom was found to own more than 147 000 “cable” km, which translates to a calculation of route-distance equalling 88000 km.
- Broadband Infraco is using fibre on Eskom and Transnet. Mostly above-ground along power lines.
- National Long Distance (NLD) or Co-built:
- Vodacom+MTN+Neotel consortium with SANRAL for long distance ducts. Each partner has its own pipe in the duct under the road.
- FibreCo has long distance ducts under road, open access fibre.
- DFA has majority of city fibre networks (underground), some long distance networks (underground)
- Liquid Telecom has long distance duct under highway
- Other fibre infrastructures included PRASA, B-Wired, Metros, security estates, which had a very short distance links.
- Most other “operators” use fibres from the above, and sell as fibre services.
- Owners/controllers of access to routes/ducts/servitudes/rights-of-way were found to be: SANRAL, Provincial road authorities, Eskom, Transnet, Prasa, and Cities.
As regards the implementation of SA Connect, the Deputy-Minister stated, inter alia:
- The vision for broadband is that by 2020, 100% of South Africans will have access to broadband services at 2.5% or less of the population’s average monthly income.
- The DTPS has revised its Strategic Goals and Objectives to focus on specific Broadband Programme priorities.
- With regards to Digital development, the purpose is to catalyse broadband connectivity, aiming to provide access to broadband to 50 per cent of the population by 2016 and 90 per cent by 2020.
- The 2015/16 financial year will see the implementation of the first phase of the digital development pillar, which is providing broadband connection services to schools, health clinics and other government facilities in 8 districts where National Health Insurance is being piloted.
- The Implementation plan for Phase 2 of Digital Development will also be developed.
- Other projects include the
- Rapid Deployment Policy
- ICT Capacity building programmes, and
- development of a Roadmap for the establishment of a wholesale open access network.
___[23 May 2015] The Minister delivered his budget speech on 21 May 2015, motivating for the R1.4 billion budget proposed for his Department.
- Broadband roll-out under the South Africa Connect National Broadband Policy: R200 million has been allocated to commence rolling out broadband infrastructure to connect all government institutions in the 8 districts identified by the President, with this exercise to be completed within 3 years.
- The role of Telkom:
“Telkom’s designation as the lead agency for broadband rollout is based on the investment it has made in rolling out an extensive fibre network which accounts for 86% of the existing 170 000 kilometres of national fibre network. The Department will be finalising the business case which will be demonstrating the value for money and the appropriate legal prescripts in designating Telkom as a lead agency in broadband rollout. It is worth noting that Telkom, on its own, has committed most of its R5 billion capital budget towards reaching more areas and to upgrade the technology as their contribution to the implementation of SA Connect.
- The role of Broadband Infraco:
Infraco has been allocated R319 million over the next two years to extend its broadband infrastructure by 1 000 kilometres. It plans to establish 41 new points of presence including underserviced towns such as Ulundi and Stanger. However, due to the projected cash flow challenge, the company has scaled down 30 infrastructure upgrade projects to the value of R450 million. In addition, we have advised Broadband Infraco to further scale down non-critical projects for it to continue as a going concern.
- USAASA and the Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF)
“This financial year, USAASA will upgrade networks at Mutale and Chief Albert Luthuli Municipalities where they will be connecting 10 schools. The Agency is also planning to connect three schools for people with disabilities.In this year, the department will work with ICASA the regulator, to review the levy for the Universal Service and Access Fund (USAF). The aim is to align ourselves to the 1% charged by developing countries if we are to narrow the digital divide in the underserved areas.”
- Rationalisation of state-owned entities
All state owned entities responsible for ICT infrastructure, specifically broadband, are now under the Department to achieve greater coordination and efficiency. During this financial year the Department will finalise a strategy on their rationalisation.
- Spectrum policy
National Policy on Spectrum to deal with the use and allocation of this scarce resource. Government is studying the recommendations in the report with the aim of finalising a National Integrated ICT White Paper for submission to Cabinet for approval during this financial year
As we rollout broadband and increase uptake and use of ICTs, we need to assure confidence in the security of these networks. We have made progress in the establishment of a cybersecurity hub in collaboration with the CSIR. I recently visited the hub and was privileged to experience what it has to offer. We will continue to work together with the public and the private sector to expand the capabilities of the hub as we prepare for its launch in August this year.
- Digital migration
On the 06th of March 2015 Sentch completed its digital network deployment for Digital Migration. The Network is ready and they have R108 million for dual illumination for this year. This entity will also spend R185 million to upgrade its infrastructure.
- Internal affairs
I am aware of the ongoing leadership challenges which have negatively impacted on the ability of the Department to execute its functions timeously. I am attending to these challenges as a matter of urgency in order to ensure that the Department delivers on its mandate.
___[3 May 2015] The Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services noted in a recent speech that the Department was developing a data services market policy and a policy on data pricing.
Other interventions include the Data services market policy which will ensure a fair and transparent pricing mechanism for data services. The Department intends to develop a policy on data pricing that will determine clear policy guidelines on affordable broadband access during the course of this year
In the same speech the Deputy Minister provided some insight into SA’s position on IMT at WRC2015 and its view on broadcaster’s playing a wider role in communications service provision:
Mobile commJetpackunications including mobile broadband communications contribute positively to the economic and social development of both developed and developing countries. The Department has been following the work of the ITU on bridging the digital divide and indications are that mobile broadband (delivered) over smartphones and tablets has become the fastest growing segment of the global ICT market and is now more affordable than fixed broadband in some countries. It is against this background that South Africa will work within the auspices of the African Telecommunication Union (ATU) to seek for additional allocation of spectrum for mobile broadband.
In preparing for the World Radio Communication Conference 2015, to be held in November, the Department will consider in particular the protection of spectrum used for the broadcasting service in consultation with industry stakeholders. This is because broadcasting provides low cost and easy access solution to consumers to gain access to content whilst affording Government the potential to communicate directly with the country and specific communities.
___[2 May 2015] In a recent speech, the Deputy Minister provided some useful information on schools connectivity programmes:
The National Broadband Policy specifies that roll-out of broadband to schools and other educational institutions is a priority and highlights that the Education Departments have identified the need to use digital technologies to:
• Extend access to educational opportunities across gender, spatial and socio-economic divides and ensure access by persons with disabilities.
• Enable flexible open learning environments including interactive and personalised learning opportunities.
• Extend learning beyond the formal schooling system; and
• Streamline administration for teachers and administrators and enable assessment and data collection.
As stated in the Title of South Africa’s broadband policy: SA Connect of November 2013, it seeks to create opportunities and ensure inclusion.
Schools Connectivity Programme and Broadband Roll-out
The country has over 26000 schools with an estimated total of 11.2 million learners. This means that education has a very high demand for ICT’s, making it one of government’s top priorities.
Out of the 5937 schools here in KwaZulu-Natal, we have so far connected 2258 schools through our schools connectivity programme. This is only 38% of the provincial total number of schools, more still needs to be done to achieve 100% connectivity.
As we launch this computer laboratory today, we recognise that this is an initiative to take ICTs in education a step closer to achieving the countries goal of making technology in education a reality. Through a generous sponsorship by Sentech, the school now has 22 laptops for learners and teachers to use. To compliment these laptops, Sentech has also installed connectivity in the school via VSAT (satellite) and with WIFI, enabling the school to also be connected with the rest of world. These laptops will give the school an opportunity to access educational content, conduct research, and also learn how ICTs.
Sentech, has also provided the tables and desks for the school, for which we are very appreciative of. As a Department we would like to thank the sponsor for the generous contribution towards ICTs and education.
Through partnerships with the private sector, government will be able to achieve the targets set out in the NDP, resulting in us moving the country forward towards prosperity. We recognise the contributions made by our private partners in the ICT sector, and welcome any future contributions and partnerships in the ICT space.
___[3 March 2015] Vote 32 Telecommunications and Postal Services 2015