President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has pledged that the government will facilitate broadband rollout by establishing a standard model for municipal approvals.
Municipal permits are required for fibre and mobile network operators to dig trenches to lay conduits and fibre cables; however, each municipality has its system for applying for these wayleaves.
Ramaphosa said in his 2022 State of the Nation address that establishing a standard approval process will assist in making faster broadband more accessible to a broader range of people.
He also argues that it will lower the cost of digital communications.
Unfortunately, simplifying the deployment of broadband networks is not a novel concept. The South African government has been attempting to establish “Rapid Deployment Guidelines” and associated regulations since 2008.
These first guidelines were nothing more than an attempt by the then-communications minister, the late Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, to use legislation to influence undersea cable landings in South Africa.
These guidelines were finally abandoned on August 11, 2011, under the late Minister Roy Padayachie, who handed over the formulation of new guidelines to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
There had been little visible progress on the Rapid Deployment Guidelines for years. According to industry sources, the framework was developed by ICASA, but it sat on the desk of Padayachie’s successor, Dina Pule.
There is presently a memorandum of agreement between the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. However, progress on these policies appears to have stalled once again.
The memorandum aims to quickly install electronic communications infrastructure in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Apart from proposing a standard model for municipal approvals, Ramaphosa also stated that the country’s transformation from analogue to digital television broadcasting would be completed by the end of March.
The above mentioned is despite E-tv owner eMedia Holdings’ pending court case against ICASA and controversial communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.