THE telecoms industry hopes that Telkom will withdraw its legal action against the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) in the national interest. This is according to Arthur Goldstuck, the managing director of World Wide Worx.
This comes after Telkom took Icasa to court, to block the authority from processing the invitations to apply (ITAs) for the high-demand spectrum earmarked for auctioning in March.
Icasa on January 4 confirmed it had been served with an urgent application filed in the High Court, Pretoria by Telkom.
In a turn of events, MTN and Vodacom took Telkom to court over its attempt to block Icasa from processing the invitations.
With MTN joining hands with Vodacom, this might support Icasa's case to go ahead with the auction.
Goldstuck said: “I can see where they (Telkom) are coming from, but almost any version of the invitation to apply for the spectrum will have elements that are not to everyone’s satisfaction.
“It must come to an end, even if it requires the intervention of the president himself. We can’t have a situation where an entire generation of South Africans is being disadvantaged because limited business interests are not being met,” said Goldstuck.
Mobile operators in the country have been waiting for Icasa to release spectrum licences for almost 15 years. The licences are expected to offer more access to connectivity, add network capacity and lower data costs.
Meanwhile, local businesses, NGOs and call centres can now change to a different service provider without having to change their 0800, 0860 or 087 numbers. This is according to South Africa’s Independent Service Providers’ Association (ISPA). ISPA said Icasa has finalised the number portability framework and the provision of the firm commencement date.
ISPA said it had for a decade and a half been calling for the full implementation of number portability.
“That call was finally heard and Icasa, on 15 December 2021, published the relevant Number Portability Regulations in the Government Gazette,” it said.
According to ISPA, Icasa proclaimed that the Number Portability Regulations would come into force on March 7, 2022. “From this date local businesses, NGOs and call centres can change to a different service provider without having to change their 0800, 0860 or 087 number,” it said.
ISPA said Icasa also finalised the technical details of how number portability will work in its amendments to the Ordering System Specification. ISPA regulatory adviser Dominic Cull said: “This welcome news also signals to business and consumers the necessity of holding off on entering into further long-term agreements with providers. This is because the full implementation of number portability will soon see greater competition in providing telecoms services when it comes to non-geographic phone numbers.
“The new two months will be an opportunity to investigate deals and determine if you’re getting the best service and value offering from your incumbent provider,” said Cull.
ISPA said before Icasa’s December 2021 announcement the issue around number portability was that while one million geographic numbers and eight million mobile numbers had been ported in South Africa, it remained impossible to port non-geographic numbers used by local businesses, non-profit organisations, and consumers for toll-free, shared-cost, premium rate and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services (i.e. numbers starting with 0800, 0860, 0861, 0862 and 087).
“This inexplicable delay has now been dealt with, and industry and the Number Portability Company (NPC) stand ready to port non-geographic numbers from March 7, 2022,” said ISPA.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE