Comment Sought on Electronic Communications Bill

Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services

The Draft Electronic Communications Amendment Bill has been published in Government Gazette 41261 for comment.

The proposed legislation flows from the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper.

The draft bill seeks to:

•    amend the Act, so as to align it with the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper approved by Cabinet on 28 September 2016;
•    provide for transformation of the sector through enforcement of broad-based black economic empowerment;
•    provide for lowering of cost of communications, reducing infrastructure duplications and encouraging service based competition through a wireless open access network;
•    provide a new framework for rapid deployment of electronic communications facilities;
•    provide for new approaches on scarce resources such as spectrum including the allocation of high demand spectrum on open access principles;
•    create a new framework for open access;
•    provide for the regulation of international roaming including SADC roaming to ensure regulated roaming costs, quality of service and transparency;
•    provide for regular market definition and review to ensure effective competition;
•    provide for improved quality of services including for persons with disabilities;
•    provide for consumer protection of different types of end-users and subscribers, including persons and institutions;
•    provide for enhanced cooperation between the National Consumer Commission and Authority as well as the Competition Commission and the Authority; and
•    provide for matters connected therewith.

The telecommunications and postal services department invites comment within 30 days of the date of publication.

Meanwhile, in Gazette 41263, the Independent Communications Authority has published Draft Electronic Communications Act regulations for comment.

Comment on the Draft End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations is invited within 30 days of date of publication.

New definitions on “data bundle” and “unstructured supplementary service data” are proposed.

New regulations on voice, SMS services and data services and consumer education and awareness are to be inserted.

In a separate matter, the department has briefed parliament on the Draft Ikamva National eSkills Institute Bill.

The draft bill was published for comment earlier this month.

The plan for the envisaged institute is to address the shortage of e-skills.

e-Skills are defined as capacity to use modern ICT devices and applications for work, education, community and personal needs.

The plan is to table the draft bill in parliament in March 2018.

Sabinet Cape Town Office

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