Communities Cannot Let Up in the Quest for Open Access
Communities across South Africa are winning the war for open access and choice. However, says the Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA), ground gained in the quest for free competition in the Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) market will be lost if homeowners and tenants don’t keep up the pressure in 2019.
“South Africans must refuse second-best and continue to evangelise the principle of open access FTTH where they live,” says ISPA chair, Graham Beneke.
‘Open access’ refers to electronic communications networks which provide a neutral platform for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to compete with each other. ISPA confirms that elected representatives of gated communities, estates and business parks are adopting a hard line with providers who refuse to allow for multiple ISPs to compete for business.
This hard line in defence of open access must continue into 2019. In practical terms, it means keeping FTTH on body corporate meeting agendas and paying attention to fibre rollout within communities to ensure promises made are being kept by providers. Commitments to free competition should be reduced to writing and open access clauses should always be inserted in written agreements with planned fibre providers.
“As a central pillar of functioning and free ICT markets that deliver the best value to Internet consumers, open access remains one of ISPA’s guiding principles. Open access means fair competition, and fair competition means choice in quality, affordable communications for consumers,” says Beneke.
ISPA believes consumers should be free to choose who they buy Internet access or data from – something that those lucky enough to have an ADSL or fibre connection are used to. The absence of choice in choosing who to buy mobile data from is something which ICASA and the Competition Commission are busy investigating and ISPA is in full support of these processes.
In conclusion, for fibre to truly deliver its promised benefits, ISPA says homeowners and tenants must pay attention to the wording of their chosen ISP‘s fair usage policy, bear in mind that their fibre-based web usage is likely to increase exponentially and remember to ask their ISP upfront whether the necessary hardware and its installation are included within their monthly data packages.
For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.