South Africa: Icasa to outline local-loop unbundling plan


SA’s telecommunications industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), will outline the first steps it intends taking to unbundle Telkom’s local loop at a briefing at its offices in Sandton this Wednesday.

Icasa will take the wraps off its delayed “local-loop unbundling discussion document”. The document, which will be published in the Government Gazette, is meant to outline the authority’s “initial views on the process to be followed to unbundle the fixed-line local loop and to invite public participation and comment”.

The document was meant to be published at the beginning of the month, but was postponed so that “finer details” could be finalised.

Local-loop unbundling is a regulatory intervention to provide Telkom’s rivals with access to its so-called “last mile” of copper cable infrastructure connecting homes and businesses to its telephone exchanges. It’s seen as an important step in reducing fixed-line broadband costs.

Telkom Group CEO Nombulelo Moholi warned last week that unbundling posed a “major risk” to the company. She said the risk from unbundling came from “not knowing” what would be unbundled.

“There is a vacuum in the definitions and regulations around what will be unbundled, and at what price. Also, at what cost, and from what point in the network [it will happen],” she told investors at the presentation of the group’s annual results.

Communications minister Roy Padayachie has set a deadline of November 2011 for the local loop to be unbundled.