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Opening up networks likely to worry cell giants

Publish date: 12 September 2018
Issue Number: 1749
Diary: Legalbrief eLaw
Category: Legislation

The latest version of the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill is likely to spook Vodacom and MTN with a proposal that they open up their networks to competitors, suggests a Business Day report. It notes the contentious Bill, which has been revised several times and is ready to be presented to Parliament, has worried investors but found support among smaller operators and those who argue that Vodacom and MTN’s dominance of the local market must be reined in. The Bill says a service provider with ‘significant market power’, or at least 25% of SA’s network infrastructure, must share its infrastructure with competitors. Icasa is to prescribe the ‘cost-oriented’ rates these operators can charge their rivals, according to the Bill. An MTN spokesperson reportedly told Business Day that since the latest version of the Bill was not yet before Parliament, ‘we respect the process that is required and would prefer to comment on the version that is finally sent to Parliament and only once that process has been concluded’. A spokesperson for Vodacom said the operator was reviewing the Bill ‘and will comment in due course’. Analysts have argued that if operators are forced to share infrastructure with competitors, there will be little incentive for them to invest in spectrum and other assets. President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday the government had ‘finalised’ consultations with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders ‘to ensure allocation of spectrum reduces barriers to entry, promotes competition and reduces costs to consumers’. An end to SA’s spectrum impasse was imminent, he said.

Full Business Day report