Government urged to merge DTPS and DoC

September 18th, 2018, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

Andile Ngcaba, FTTX Council president.

Delivering the keynote address the FTTX annual conference in Durban, FTTX Council president, Andile Ngcaba told the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal services that government should merge the Department of Telecommunications and Postal services (DTPS) and the Department of Communications (DOC) back into one department. He addressed his remarks directly to Dr Cwele who was in the audience.

Ngcaba said: “Minister, the next frontiers are machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), big data and virtual reality (VR). These all need optic fibre to transport data. The debate in the industry is about how we move from 400 Mbps today to 1,2 Gbps tomorrow. This will require new business models, not just for the industry, in which policy is written and regulations are developed and implemented. We therefor would like to recommend to you that the DTPS and DoC come back together and drive convergence. Video is about communications and telecommunication is about infrastructure and that is why we talk about convergence. Also important is convergence of regulation. We have an information regulator on one side and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) on the other side. These two must converge into one regulator.”

He also addressed the minister on the issue of wayleaves and the tariffs that some municipalities are putting on top of what industry is paying to ICASA for licence fees. He told the minister that this requires urgent attention as it will impede the road to digital transformation. He said that the FTTX Council last year signed an MoU with South African Local Government Association (SALGA) but that regrettably some municipalities are ignoring this.

“As industry is preparing for the rollout of 5G, the cooperation between municipalities and the optic fibre industry is crucial given that on average 5G will require between 15 and 20 micro base stations, each one connected by a fibre link.”

Ngcaba said that while the rapid deployment policy as contained in the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) amendment bill is welcomed, rapid implementation is required. In his address which followed Ngcaba, the Minister expressed his concern about the rapid deployment policy. He said that since the draft bill had been tabled for parliament for deliberation, they have seen pushback from some municipalities. Parliament will be holding further public consultation sessions which could see further opposition to rapid deployment provisions in the ECA amendment bill. He called on industry to support his department to have the rapid deployment policy adopted and implemented.

“The road total digital transformation will see the requirements for hyperscale data centres. Government needs to create an environment that ensures that South Africa becomes part of the global grid. We therefor need data policies that invite global participants, and not restrictive policies that will turn global players away and isolate South Africa”, Ngcaba concluded.

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