Posted by redsaid in Untagged
I never thought I’d see the day, but I FINALLY approve of something that our Minister of (Anti) Communications, (Poison) Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, has done.
Or rather - to be more accurate - in this case, has NOT done.
The minister had until Friday afternoon to, again, appeal telecommunications group Altech’s court victory against her.
Earlier this year, Altech began taking the minister to court over her refusal to let them or any of the other value-added network services (VANS) receive individual-electronic communications network service (I-ECNS) licences.
If you are confused by all the acronyms... here it is in simple English. There are more than 600 VANS licensees in South Africa. Most of them are small voice and data carriers. Previously, only the major operators such as Telkom, Neotel and the cellular companies had the right to provide telecoms networks. This had forced the VANS to lease their backbone from those dominant players, thus artificially inflating bandwidth prices.
But I-ECNS licenses would finally give VANS the same rights to build telecommunications infrastructure and networks as those held by incumbent operators such as Telkom, Neotel, Vodacom, MTN and Cell C. Awarding them those licenses would finally fling open the doors of South Africa’s telecom industry to full-scale competition.
Which would at last mean lower prices to us consumers. And put a long-overdue end to Telkom’s monopoly.
Altech won the first few cases against her. That’s right, there was more than one trial, because since old Poinson Ivy probably owns a few thousand shares in Telkom, she couldn’t bare to put an end to the anti-competitive behaviour, and so she unsuccessfully appealed the rulings every step of the way.
On Friday, there was still a very real possibility that she would continue the fight to protect her unpopular policy of managed liberalisation, so the entire industry heaved a sigh of relief when she finally decided not to escalate the issue to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Although I’m absolutely elated by the news, I still think Poison Ivy should be fired, since she has delayed this process for so long. Ministers, after all, are supposed to act in the interest of the people, and until Friday, she had only ever acted on behalf of Telkom and its shareholders. At the great expense of the people.
Now I just wonder how long it will take before we, the long-suffering South African telecommunications consumers, actually experience some drastic price cuts.
And most importantly, dare we hope that this new turn of events could finally signal the end of our restrictive Internet caps?