Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The plan to merge ICASA, .zaDNA, and USAASA

The Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services has presented its plan to consolidate the entities responsible for regulating South Africa's ICT sector.

"Regulation is currently spread across different entities, including the Ministry, ICASA, .zaDNA, and USAASA," said minister Siyabonga Cwele.

This has resulted in overlaps and duplication of roles, and a lack of coordination between entities, he said.

He said the regulation of infrastructure, networks, and radio frequency spectrum requires very different Constitutional imperatives than those that underpin the regulation of content or broadcasting.

"In this regard, the ICT Sector Commission and Tribunal Bill creates a consolidated regulator as envisaged in the White Paper."

The new bill provides for the creation of an authority to regulate the ICT sector. This includes:

  • Regulating the electronic communications sector.
  • Internet governance.
  • Licensing and regulation of electronic communications networks and services.
  • Licensing and regulation of spectrum and other scarce resources.
  • Licensing and regulation of postal services.
  • Ex ante competition regulation.
  • Protection of consumers.
  • Allocation and management of domain names.
  • Establishment and operation of a tribunal to deal with appeals.

The ministry also wants to amend the Electronic Communications Act to provide new policy approaches on supply-side issues, infrastructure rollout, and the allocation of resources.

The amendment also aims to lower the cost of communications through a wireless open access network.

USAASA will be dissolved

The ministry said that as a result of the new plan, the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) will be dissolved. The existing Universal Service and Access Fund will be transformed into a standalone funding agency to support universal service and access.

"The Digital Development Fund (DDF) Bill gives effect to this policy objective," said Cwele.

"The DDF will provide funding to support universal service and access to ICT infrastructure, services and applications, and postal services."

Now read: Government refuses to release impact assessment for open access wireless network

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