ICASA blasts the proposed Electronic Communications Amendment Bill

7 Mar 2018

South Africa’s regulator ICASA has discussed various aspects of government’s Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, warning that the draft legislation ‘falls foul of the constitutional protection of property rights’, TechCentral writes. ICASA CEO Willington Ngwepe said a proposal in the bill that mobile operators be forced to return radio frequency spectrum could be unconstitutional: ‘It could amount to expropriation of the (existing) licensees’ rights, especially if the requirement to return the spectrum takes place during the subsistence of their current licences.’ ICASA also criticised the government’s plan to assign unallocated ‘high demand’ broadband spectrum to a wholesale open-access network (WOAN) operator, arguing that the proposed creation of a ‘monopolistic’ WOAN is contrary to the principles of fair competition, the stimulation of investment and technological advancement. The executive said: ‘The authority recommends that other alternatives to the WOAN model [be found], such as infrastructure sharing, to enhance competition and increase broadband coverage in South Africa … We would recommend a model that does not undermine competition, a model that incentivises investment and allows innovators to continue to innovate.’

South Africa, Independent Communications Authority South Africa (ICASA)