Amended telecoms bill to be presented to cabinet in September

14 Aug 2018

A redrafted version of South Africa’s Electronic Communications Amendment Bill will be presented to cabinet by the end of September, according to Siya Qoza, the spokesman for ICT minister Siyabonga Cwele. TechCentral cited the official as saying that the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) has finalised various amendments to the controversial bill, following discussions with industry players earlier this year. It is still not known how much spectrum will be reserved for the government’s planned wholesale open-access network (WOAN) or whether a ‘hybrid model’ — under which mobile operators will agree to support the WOAN in return for exclusive-use spectrum rights — will be adopted.

TeleGeography notes that the initially proposed framework (published in October 2016) stated that all wireless service providers in the country would be required to return their previously assigned spectrum, which in turn would be allocated to a newly-established WOAN. The government has drawn heavy criticism over the amendment bill, however, with Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub saying that the bill was already scaring away investors: ‘The industry lost close to ZAR80 billion [USD6.6 billion] in [the] last year in market cap … purely because there is a lot of uncertainty.’

South Africa, Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT)