South Africa: Neotel seeks unbundling timelines

Telecoms

Neotel has written to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) asking for clarity on possible delays to the process of unbundling Telkom’s local loop.

This comes after Icasa agreed not to publish the draft regulations on local-loop unbundling (LLU) so that recently appointed communications minister Yunus Carrim can study them.

Neotel Chief Corporate Services Officer Tracy Cohen says the company wrote to Icasa after reading that the publication of draft regulations has been delayed.

Cohen says the purpose of the letter is not to try and compel the regulator to publish the regulations. It simply wants “some guidelines” on how much longer it will have to wait.

On Monday, the Department of Communications proposed a comprehensive regulatory impact assessment (RIA) be conducted before implementing LLU to assess its effects. Icasa, meanwhile, believes such an assessment is likely to further delay the process and is unnecessary.

In May 2012, Neotel emerged victorious at a hearing at Icasa’s complaints and compliance committee (CCC) where it sought access to two of Telkom’s Johannesburg exchanges under separate facilities-leasing regulations, which are already in force. The CCC found in Neotel’s favour and ordered Icasa to draw up regulations to unbundle the local loop.

“We’ve simply said there’s a CCC ruling and a ministerial determination and things have taken long enough,” Cohen says. “We want some guidelines on how much longer it’s going to take.”

She adds that LLU has a role to play in the “functional” (operational) separation of Telkom’s wholesale and retail arms to which the operator agreed in a recent settlement reached with the Competition Commission.

“I think the regulator has to consider the tie-up between the Competition Commission’s ruling and the CCC’s.”