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Fundamental flaws in ADSL regulations - ISPA

While the Internet Service Providers' Association of SA (ISPA) has commended the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for raising the bar in terms of transparency, service delivery and technical functionality in the broadband market, it is also concerned that a number of the provisions are too vague to have the intended impact. ICASA recently published regulations regarding the provision of ADSL services.
Says Greg Massel, co-chair of ISPA, "While greater transparency is to be encouraged, one has the feeling that ICASA is more concerned with placing warning labels on broadband services than doing anything about the actual cost of these services."

He adds, "While consumers will have a better idea of the specific costs involved before entering into a broadband contract, the central issues of the lack of affordability and limited bandwidth capacity have been neatly sidestepped while it remains uncertain what sanctions will be imposed on the fixed line operator, should it fail to meet the 30-day ADSL installation deadline."

Given Telkom's current backlog and current turnaround times for ADSL installations, ICASA is likely to be inundated with complaints.

Unfortunately, the good news regarding specific delivery lead times, more clearly defined service parameters and the resolution of specific consumer technical issues is overshadowed so dramatically by the lack of provisions to prevent continued anti-competitive behaviour by Telkom, says ISPA.

According to ISPA's original submission on the draft ADSL regulations, specific problems faced by ISPs in the ADSL market are that Telkom bundles ADSL with other services; Telkom dictates all wholesale prices and there are no controls to ensure that competitors are treated fairly; there is no transparency between Telkom's wholesale and retail operations; Telkom refuses to provide service level guarantees to ISPs; and artificially limits the services that ISPs are able to offer via ADSL.

"ISPA calls for engagement with relevant industry players, including Telkom and ICASA, regarding the ability of ISPs to implement various aspects of the regulations, for example the local bandwidth cap," concludes Massel.
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