Below, please find issue 18 of ENSafrica's telecoms and media in brief, a snapshot of the latest telecommunications and broadcasting developments in South Africa.
- Reminder to apply for Radio
Frequency Spectrum Licences for the purpose of operating a Wireless
Open Access Network.
- On 2 October 2020, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa ("ICASA") published a composite Invitation to Apply for an individual electronic communications network services ("I-ECNS") and Radio Frequency Spectrum Licences for the purpose of operating a Wireless Open Access Network ("WOAN").
- An application must be addressed for the attention of the General Manager: Licensing and must be submitted electronically to the following email address: email@example.com
- Notification will be provided confirming that the application has been successfully delivered.
- The closing date for the submission of applications is 11:00am South African time, on 30 March 2021.
- For all the details, please see the Invitation to Apply accessible here.
- Reminder to apply for radio
frequency spectrum licences for International Mobile
- On 2 October 2020, ICASA issued an Invitation to Apply notice to invite applications for the radio frequency spectrum licences for International Mobile Telecommunication ("IMT") Spectrum bands in the ranges of 703 - 790 MHz ("IMT700"), 790 - 862 MHz ("IMT800"), 2500 -2690MHz ("IMT2600"), and 3400 - 3600 MHz ("IMT3500") for the purposes of providing national broadband wireless access services.
- Interested persons are invited to submit applications, including an electronic version of the application in Microsoft Word and signed PDF versions, by no later than 16h00 on Monday, 28 December 2020.
- For all the details please see the Invitation to Apply accessible here.
- Draft White Paper on Audio
and Audiovisual Content Services Policy Framework: A New Vision for
South Africa 2020
- We recently published a newsflash to alert our readers of the publication of the Draft White Paper on Audio and Audiovisual Content Services Policy Framework: A New Vision for South Africa 2020 ("White Paper").
- The White Paper proposes changes to South Africa's audio and audiovisual content services.
- In this Telecoms in Brief, we will outline the regulatory changes that are proposed in respect of on-demand services.
- One of the proposed changes that is
attracting the public's attention is the White Paper's
proposal that on-demand content services be included in the
broadened definition of audio and audiovisual services
("AAVCS") thereby requiring these
services to be licensed. In other words, the White Paper proposes
that regulatory attention be paid to the likes of Netflix, Apple
TV+ and Amazon Prime Video. The White Paper provides as follows:
- "The proposed approach . going forward, is to regulate platforms providing AAVCS similarly, regardless of the platform used. This may entail relaxing or introducing more flexibility in some aspects of regulation for traditional broadcasting platforms while simultaneously bringing new audio and audiovisual content platforms into the regulatory framework in an appropriate manner."
- According to the White Paper, the existence of individual and class licences remains an important tool for the regulator to discern between these types of licence and to allow the imposition of a higher level of regulation and public interest obligations on individual licensee and lower levels of regulations and obligations on class licensees.
- While the White Paper sets out the proposal that all current national broadcasters must continue to be individual licensee, it contemplates that there will be a level of de-regulation in some areas ".to promote fair competition between broadcaster and broadcasting-like services on the internet to acknowledge the growth and development that has occurred in the sector over the past two decades."
- On-demand services that had an annual turnover of between ZAR50-million and ZAR99-million in the previous financial year will require a class licence. Services that turned over ZAR100-million or more in the previous financial year must apply for an individual operating licence. These thresholds will also apply to foreign-based AAVCSs who are deriving revenue streams as a result of targeting South Africa audiences. The further proposal in the White Paper is that if the global size of the foreign firm is such that its business is capable of ".affecting economic activity the regulator may issue a licence irrespective of the size of its South Africa annual turnover."
- The proposal in the White Paper is that video-sharing platforms or services, for example YouTube, will remain exempt from licensing.
in the news
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Publication of the Report of the Presidential Commission on the 4th
Industrial Revolution (PC4IR)
- On 23 October 2020, Stella Ndabeni-Abrams, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies published the Report of the Presidential Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution ("PC4IR").
- In the PC4IR's summary of key ideas, it is stated that "the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to catalyse South Africa's path to attaining the goals of the National Development Plan." The task at the core of the Commission concerns South Africa's economic competitiveness and societal wellbeing.
- The PC4IR states that as a result of extensive research, public and government consultations held by the various work streams, a view has emerged of South Africa's desired 4IR future, however, further consultations will be held in order to gain input build consensus from a broader section of society. The concern being that the majority of the population must be represented so as to avoid widening the inequality gap any further and ensuring a holistic approach.
- The PC4IR sets out South Africa's
Industrial Policy Action Plan, stating first that 4IR or
digitisation is a component rather than a central feature of the
future of economic production and social life. The Industrial
Policy Action Plan seeks to address the following:
- The concentration of economic ownership and control within the racial minority.
- The lagging industrial capabilities of the country with respect to the third industrial revolution.
- The increasingly blurred lines in economic sectors.
- Poor policy coordination among state actors.
- Aging economic infrastructure, such as electricity, roads and ports.
- Corruption within the government sector which reduces the impact of efforts aimed at SMMEs and other types of new entrants through public procurement.
- The following are the eight
dimensions of South Africa Industrial Development Strategy:
- Service delivery: there is a focus on e-government and the use of technology to improve mobility around cities and to improve the quality and deployment of health services.
- Government coordination: there is a recognition that the state has a central role in coordinating 4IR efforts across departments, stakeholders and sectors.
- Preparation through experimentation: opportunities are created by novel technologies for funded experimentation through privatepublic collaboration.
- Regulation and ethics: the recognition that a focus on regulation, ethics and cultural aspects of the internet is important, not only to create an enabling environment to support the private sector, but to ensure the ethical and transparent use of technologies.
- Human capital development: both as it pertains to future labour force entrants and the requirement to reskill those transitioning into emerging jobs.
- Global leadership: the important of being competitive at a global level, which necessitates specialisation.
- Technological clarity and commitment: the need to seek and establish expertise and control.
- Private sector capabilities: there must be an emphasis on leveraging and harnessing capabilities in the private sector to create both social and economic value at scale.
- A key theme throughout the PC4IR is the focus on human capital and development and a sense that all the goals are to be brought together into a web which is spun by governmental coordination. To this end the PC4IR recognises that "To achieve this, there must be clear accountability for implementing the recommendations within a timeframe that can be monitored by all stakeholders in society."
- The PC4IR states that the
government's regulatory function will need to address the
- Data policy
- Artificial intelligence
- Smart cities and human settlements
- The future of work
- Industry 4.0
- Research, ethics and innovation.
- In this regard, there is a recognition that globally, such policy changes are underway and that in South Africa this process is also commencing. The PC4IR is stated to play a critical role in providing recommendation to guide the actions of legislators and policy makers in government to ensure a coherent response. In this regard, certain principles have been established which include, that policy-making should be an inclusive process, should be mindful of entrepreneurs and financial incentives, integration should be sought and fragmentation avoided, and policy should be agile in order to adapt to rapid change.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.