South Africa - APC supports national regulator against monopoly

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Mar 7

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC), an international non-profit actor on internet access worldwide, has stated its whole-hearted support of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for the drafting of regulations prescribing a list of essential facilities for electronic communications. “The introduction of these regulations creates conditions of open access on a non-discriminatory basis to undersea-based submarine cables,” says Natasha Primo, national policy manager at APC.

At the same time, APC calls on ICASA to take immediate action to counter anti-competitive behaviour of Telkom, the dominant fixed line operator.

“This is needed if the regulator is to enforce the right of South Africans to choose telecommunications networks and services at an affordable cost,” states Primo. “Telkom’s sole control of submarine fibre-optic cables such as SAT3/WASC/SAFE undersea cable, the landing station at Melkbosstrand, as well as the land-based fibre optic cables has resulted in anti-competitive practices and consequent exploding telecommunication costs.”

The cost of international bandwidth in South Africa is 4-5 times that in comparable markets in Malaysia and Brazil and much slower (international internet bandwidth access in South Africa is 29 bits per person compared to 127 in Malaysia and 154 in Brazil). “The South African consumer and economy is bearing the brunt of the costs of Telkom’s prize squeeze for access to fibre-optic network capacity,” Primo adds.

APC strongly urges ICASA to disregard Telkom’s call for a market review. “This is a red herring and a clear delaying tactic,” argues Natasha Primo. Telkom has a clear significant market power in the essential facilities market.

Finally, APC proposes that the undersea-based fibre optic cables, the cable landing station, co-location space, land-based fibre optic cables, main distribution frame and backhaul circuits are listed as essential facilities with immediate effect.

The full statement from APC is available online: http://www.apc.org/english/news/index.shtml?x=5530954

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is a global network of civil society organisations working to – amongst other aims – advance affordable access to information and communications technologies for social justice and development. Network members are primarily based in developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, South and East Asia, and South and Eastern Europe, including four in South Africa: Community Education Computer Society (CECS), SANGONeT, Women’sNet and Ugana-Afrika.

(END/2008)

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Mallory Knodel
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Tel: +1 514 573 6340
mallory@apc.org
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