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SA govt denies taking over spectrum control

SA govt denies taking over spectrum control

Director-General of the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services of South Africa Robert Nkuna has refuted claims the government is attempting to usurp control of spectrum from regulator ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa).

Speaking in absence of Dr Siyabonga Cwele, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services of South Africa at the annual Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) 2018 this week in Hermanus, Western Cape, Nkuna said the responsibility of managing spectrum was clear – ICASA deals with spectrum licensing, while the Department is responsible for allocation.

Telkom South Africa remains embroiled in a dispute with ICASA regarding plans to reduce call termination rates and will be under scrutiny at the event.

Nkuna spoke of market restructuring, making reference to the wireless open access network proposed in the draft Electronic Communications Amendment Bill and the need to redefine the market to drive economic development.

"We must not be afraid of difficult issues. Woan is a hybrid model ... the government is also focused on the deployment of broadband through SA connect," the DG added.

Nkuna said the government is faced with the "big task" of developing a data policy for South Africa.

The government creates substantial data sets and takes the issue seriously, "We generate a great deal of terabytes of data and we take these issues seriously, specifically how they will impact and drive policy. Data must be evidence-based, durable... that can stand the test of time. We need to start thinking about how that data will improve policy, about improving the economy."

"What we need to do is to ensure the data sets are interoperable, that they make sense, data on its own cannot do anything ... and if we do this, we will get three outcomes: descriptive analytics, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics."

Nkuna confirmed that while South Africa "is not doing much at the moment" and has limited resources in terms of 5G, the plan is to work closely with the private sector, especially small enterprises, to take the lead.

The government believes SITA (State IT Agency) will be a very big asset and the plan is to reposition SITA to drive transformation and connectivity.

He said there was a need to formalise the role of young people by creating a permanent network of young researchers, a platform that will allow young people to engage with each other.

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