BMI-T expects changes in SA telecoms sector

BMI-TechKnowledge Group has announced the publication of the Changing South African Telecommunications Landscape: Competition and Convergence report, which looks at various issues, such as the Convergence Bill and the proposed licensing of the country’s second national operator (SNO), and how these will affect the sector as a whole.

Brian Neilson, research director at BMI-T and co-author of the report, says that South Africa (SA) telecommunications is entering its 10th year of liberalization, albeit a managed or phased process.

“During this period the industry has grown to be one of the largest on the African continent. However, with the impending licensing of the SNO and the shift towards a converged licensing regime focusing on a horizontal licensing structure, which is technologically agnostic, the industry is expected to enter into a new era, which will be driven by a more open and competitive landscape,” says Neilson.

The report investigates the likely impact that the new convergence legislation and regulatory framework will have on the market structure within the managed liberalization process.

Neilson adds that other competition enablers, such as number portability and carrier preselection, the lifting of the prohibition on voice over IP and self-provisioning for ISPs and VANs will be key, but are not necessarily tied to the convergence timetable.

BMI-T expects that Telkom SA will remain the dominant fixed-line operator in SA. With the licensing of the SNO, which is now once again moving forward, the operator is bracing itself for a new wave of competition.

The report also highlights probable SNO market entry strategies based on SNO market conditions in other parts of the world.

In the mobile arena the market is now expected to grow to over 21 million subscribers. The challenge will increasingly lie in maintaining ARPUs by growing value-added services, while also dealing with affordability issues for marginal new users.

“Managing by numbers will become increasingly important as margins on ARPUs begin to become tighter for operators, both mobile and fixed. The key is likely to be the ability to offer bundled solutions to customers that will allow the end-users some degree of flexibility and customization,” concludes Neilson.

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