Don’t hold your breath

Clar­ity on ADSL a long way off

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & technology - BENE­DICT KELLY benk@fin­week.co.za

WITH BROAD­BAND still dom­i­nat­ing the psy­che of the South African IT com­mu­nity, Icasa could be pre­par­ing to re­visit the fun­da­men­tally flawed ADSL reg­u­la­tions is­sued in Au­gust last year – or maybe not.

While Icasa coun­cil­lor Mamod­upi Mohlala de­nied on 25 Jan­uary that the reg­u­la­tor was re­vis­it­ing the reg­u­la­tions, chair­man Paris Mashile, speak­ing on SABC3’s In­ter­face pro­gramme just three days later, said he had “ac­ti­vated the com­mit­tee that was op­er­a­tional last year to look at it”.

What­ever is hap­pen­ing, Icasa seems un­able or un­will­ing to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion that has led to lo­cal broad­band prices far out­strip­ping in­ter­na­tional bench­marks.

At the heart of the prob­lem is the abil­ity of the tele­coms reg­u­la­tor to han­dle com­plaints that fo­cus mainly on Telkom’s in­abil­ity to in­stall an ADSL ser­vice in un­der 30 days as stip­u­lated in the reg­u­la­tions (sec­tion 3.6), as well as the re­quire­ment that Telkom and the other ADSL play­ers en­ter into a ser­vice-level agree­ment with their clients (sec­tion 8) gov­ern­ing com­plaints pro­ce­dures, dis­pute res­o­lu­tion, re­pair times, penal­ties for breach­ing the ser­vice level agree­ment and min­i­mum speeds.

Icasa has so far been un­able to process a sin­gle com­plaint deal­ing with the ADSL reg­u­la­tions, which ap­pears to have re­sulted from de­lays in im­ple­ment­ing the pro­vi­sions of the Icasa Amend­ment Act, which came into ef­fect in July last year.

The Act al­lows for the cre­ation of a com­mit­tee to hear all com­plaints in ar­eas un­der Icasa’s um­brella. Icasa was un­able to give Fin­week de­tails of the time­frame for this com­mit­tee to be­come op­er­a­tional.

If Icasa was pin­ning its hopes on this com­mit­tee to clar­i­fiy ADSL reg­u­la­tions, it needs to move quickly to have it con­sti­tuted.

The com­mit­tee’s task is not go­ing to be easy as the com­plex­ity of com­plaints, not just re­gard­ing ADSL reg­u­la­tions, but across the board, is likely to in­crease dra­mat­i­cally.

The main con­cern is that the in­abil- ity of Icasa to process even el­e­men­tary re­quests at present in­di­cates that in­stead of the big stick the reg­u­la­tor should be car­ry­ing it ap­pears to only just be able to han­dle a walk­ing stick.

Look­ing at it. Paris Mashile

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