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South Africa’s Plans for a National Broadband Plan

Getting Regulation Right Blog Aspect

It has been reported that at a recent industry event with the theme of “Broadband – A Catalyst for Sustainable Economic Development and Promoting Digital Inclusion” the need for better policies, “collaboration between stakeholders,” vertical separation and demand side measures like “ICT Skills Development, digital literacy programs for students and adults, IT resources and training”  and the” need to move to impact and creating an ecosystem … and mesh together supply side and demand,” have been emphasized by participants from government and industry.

This echoes much of what has been agreed internationally as posted earlier under National Broadband Plans and Broadband Networks

An earlier report about the Government’s plans for broadband expansion and reactions of the industry may be see here.

An extract as below indicates that the 3 options being considered are similar to those which may have been considered by many a nation and certainly same as those considered in India. (Please see post titled “Broadband Networks through the Infrastructure Sharing Route

“The government currently owns a number of assets in the telecoms market – including long-distance infrastructure provider Broadband Infraco and a 39.8-percent share in South Africa’s fixed-line incumbent Telkom. The state now wants to work with the private sector to build a wholesale national broadband network along open-access principles. With around 3.5 million PC broadband connections and 10 million smartphones between South Africa’s population of more than 51 million, the country is far from achieving its goal of universal access by 2020.

Though there are many broadband expansion projects underway, they are fragmented, and a comprehensive, centrally planned strategy is essential to boosting broadband in South Africa .., three funding options for the national network [are]:

  • Financing a state-owned enterprise.
  • Incentives for operators to offer services in economically unattractive rural areas.
  • Equity and incentives provided by government could be ring-fenced in a special purpose vehicle.”

The public consultation paper on National Broadband Policy suggests that for OFC backbone the incumbent (Telekom) will play the lead role in providing whole sale access even though service competition will be encouraged in service provision to customers . The document lays a welcome emphasis  on developing the broadband ecosystem.