SA'S TELKOM MUST JUSTIFY ADSL RATES AT HEARING

Internet

A public hearing to deal with complaints regarding the cost and service restrictions on Telkom's ADSL offerings has been scheduled by the regulator.

Strong feelings exist in the industry on this matter, and the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) has decided that the interests of the telecoms industry would best be served by airing the disparate views on the subject at an official hearing.

The hearing is as a result of an official complaint lodged by MyADSL in February last year regarding the monopoly's ADSL service.

"Our initial complaints were focused on the high cost of line rental and modem installation, although the modem costs have come down since then," says MyADSL founder, Rudolph Muller.

"Other issues we raised were those of the bandwidth caps, shaping issues and other limitations on the service."

Following the initial complaint, an ongoing investigation was launched into Telkom's ADSL service, culminating in the upcoming public hearings.

An invitation was extended for written submissions and published in the Government Gazette 27123 on 17 December 2004.

This led to the scheduling of a public hearing, chaired by councillor Mamodupi Mohlala, on the matter as noticed in the Government Gazette 27381.

Muller believes the hearings will prove to be interesting, as there are strong feelings on the matter from various industry players and public groups.

"With speakers from Telkom, MyADSL, Internet Solutions, The Internet Society and MTN, we can expect heated discussions and conflicting views," he says.

"The South African broadband community is following these developments with great interest, and the MyADSL Web site is receiving around 200 000 hits per day, which gives an indication of the interest in this matter."

He says a positive outcome should ultimately result in a decrease in ADSL prices, and that at the very least, MyADSL hopes to see a reduction in the cost of line rental, which he believes should be supplied free of charge.

The ICASA hearings will take place from 11 April to 14 April at the regulator's offices in Pinmill Farm, Sandton.

Asked how he felt about it taking almost 14 months from the time of the initial complaint to the time of the hearings, Muller says he accepts ICASA has to follow procedure.

"We have tried to help them as best we can, and although we would obviously have liked the process to be more efficient, we can't expect miracles."

In a release from last year regarding Telkom's fight with Hellkom, the company stated that sites such as MyADSL give the company an insight into the minds of its customers and that Telkom always welcomes constructive criticism.

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