South Africa’s telecoms regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), finally issued the long awaited licence for the country’s second national operator (SNO) on Friday. The SNO received a 25-year concession and is the first operator licensed to operate a PSTN in competition to the incumbent, Telkom SA. The SNO will have access to the former monopoly’s infrastructure, but ICASA says that unbundling of the local loop – originally scheduled to begin within the next two years – will now be delayed until further notice. SNO shareholders had confidently predicted that the telco would have customers making calls over its network by Christmas 2005, but have since refused to comment on launch plans.
The SNO’s shareholders consist of Nexus Connexion (19%), Transnet and Eskom Enterprises (15% each) and SepCo (51%). SepCo is made up of India’s Tata Group and its subsidiary Videsh Sanchar Nigam, as well as the Two Consortium and CommuniTel.