South African gov’t approves Convergence Bill

The South African Department of Communications (DOC) this week announced that the cabinet has approved the Convergence Bill.

According to outgoing DOC Director-General, Andile Ngcaba, the convergence of technologies has led to the Department of Communications embarking on a process to develop a policy and legislative framework to facilitate the converged technologies in the ICT environment.

“This is a very critical area,” Ncgaba adds. “And I ask the industry to look at it closely, as it is at the very heart of the structure of the market going forward.”

The process leading to new legislation has involved broad consultation with parastatals and the private sector, according to a statement released by the DOC. At the National Colloquium on Convergence Policy held in July this year, a drafting committee was established that assisted in the drafting of the Convergence Bill, Ncgaba notes, adding that the Bill has been released for a public comment for a period of 60 days.

“We are aligning the regulatory environment to meet current and future technological developments. We believe it is timely in terms of the size of SA’s economy and the size of the industry,” Ngcaba says.

According to Ncgaba, some of the long-awaited issues, such as unbundling the local loop, and national long-distance telecommunications services (as provided for in Sections 38 and 39) are dependent on the licensing of the SNO, and, as such, no progress has been made on either, despite both being due to begin operating any time after May 7, 2002 (the date that Telkom’s monopoly ended, according to legislation).

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