ISPA Members Help Shape Telecoms Policy in SA
South Africa’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has helped shape telecommunications in the country since 1996 by providing regular submissions on relevant legislation and pursuing legal avenues to greater market competition.
ISPA’s more than a decade long pursuit of complaints with the Competition Commission, for example, was fundamental in setting precedent on how dominant operators provide communications services to consumers. As a direct result of ISPA’s efforts, Telkom’s wholesale division – OpenServe – today provides Internet Service Providers (ISPs) equitable access to network services.
ISPA’s united voice has resulted in many legal, legislative, regulatory, competition and consumer victories for the local Internet community, all funded by member contributions. Nothing demonstrates the value of ISPA membership more clearly than today’s choice-driven Internet landscape. ISPA’s submissions on such landmark legislation as the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act and the Electronic Communications Act have helped open up South Africa’s telecoms market to the benefits of free competition.
Internet, mobile and fixed line consumers have welcomed the plummeting interconnection fees and data prices that ISPA helped bring about. ISPA has been a consistent industry voice in support of ICASA taking steps to reduce costs for mobile data, in particular. ISPA has lobbied ICASA and Parliament for improved mobile data wholesale models while being outspoken about the need for government to unlock frequency spectrum so that existing mobile networks and new market entrants are able to offer cheaper, faster services to all South Africans.
ISPA’s support of the local Internet consumer is not limited to competitive issues. Last year, thanks to reports from consumers, and with the cooperation of members, ISPA ensured the removal of 65 South African websites designed to defraud consumers. Although ISPA’s jurisdiction only extends to websites hosted by our members, we play an important role in ensuring that the parts of the Internet our members are responsible for are as safe as possible.
ISPA’s activities have been a boost for the ISP sector. This is clear from the fact that an additional ‘Backbone’ category of ISPA membership was recently added as many members have matured into large telecoms companies since the liberalisation of South Africa’s ICT landscape. ISPA members worked hard for consumer choice and the benefits today are being realised.
The Association also recently hosted a very successful iWeek in Durban, which is an annual Internet industry conference and exhibition with almost 400 delegates attending. The fact that iWeek grows almost every year, no matter in which South African city it is held, speaks to the value that is seen in ISPA membership and ISPA activities.
At iWeek, members get to participate in open and closed workshops, seminars and lectures where industry developments, governance of the global web and new technologies are discussed. iWeek also sees the annual prize-giving for ISPA’s SuperTeacher Competition.
This year’s iWeek was notable for being held in conjunction with the Southern African Network Operators Group (SAFNOG). This is a grouping of Internet industry professionals dedicated to building and sustaining communities of network operators in the Southern African region – another linkage that benefits ISPA members through collaboration.
Just prior to iWeek 2017, additional multi-sites were announced for other ISPA-related initiatives, the Johannesburg Internet Exchange (JINX) and the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX). ISPA members benefit from the fact that Internet exchanges like JINX, CINX and the Durban Internet Exchange (DINX) encourage local web traffic to remain local, providing a more responsive experience to Internet users and enabling cost-savings for ISPs.
An additional benefit of membership relates to ISPA’s status as an IRB and the implementation of an effective take-down notification procedure. This mechanism can be used by all ISPA members as protection from liability – in terms of the ECT Act – for content that is hosted on, stored, or transmitted through, their networks.
Finally, for ISPs committed to doing things right through well-regarded and proven industry mechanisms such as the ISPA Code of Conduct, ISPA membership is a valuable badge of respectability.
For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.