Press release: Proposed Regulations for Internet Service Provision Fall Short, Says ISPA

Published on: 2014-04-22

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While welcoming the efforts of the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) to review the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations, industry body ISPA has pointed out that some changes may be unnecessary while others will cause more problems than they will solve.

The Internet Service Providers’ Association also notes that the cost of compliance with revised regulations may not be matched by any practical benefits.

ISPA co-chair Marc Furman says it is clear that the existing regulations require review as they are ineffective, explaining that amendments to the Draft End-user and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations 2012 set out to ensure that consumers are protected through the enforcement of quality of service standards.

“However, the objectives of the regulations must be balanced against the cost of compliance to licensees and the ability of ICASA to actually process the information submitted by licensees into a sensible format which is useful to consumers,” he says.

ISPA is questioning the practicality of the proposed amendments, noting that those of its members which have complied in the past have no sense of how this information is actually used. “ISPA is not aware of any reports other than those issued in respect of mobile services and which are in any event disputed by the mobile network operators,” he says.

The cost of complying with the reporting requirements – alongside the numerous other ICASA compliance obligations – is particularly onerous on SMEs. There needs to be a clear benefit.

Impact on commercial relationships

Furman says there are also issues with definitions of certain industry terms in the Draft Regulations which are germane to the interpretation of the Regulations. “For example, the use of the terms ‘end-user and ‘subscriber’ in the Draft Regulations requires clear appreciation of the different relationships which they imply.”

ISPA understands the term ‘subscriber’ to refer to consumers who are not in the service provision value chain. It notes that the term ‘end-user’ is broader, incorporating ‘subscribers’ as well as those who are in the service provision value chain who obtain wholesale services from other licensees. As a consequence, ISPA says that when the term ‘end-user’ is employed in order to define the scope of application of a quality of service parameter, it will apply equally between a licensee and a consumer on the one hand, and between licensees in a wholesale relationship on the other hand.

“The implications of regulating the commercial relationships between licensees need to be analysed. Is it, for example, the intention of the Authority to dictate to Telkom SA that the provision of its ADSL service as a ‘best effort’ service is no longer acceptable and that it be obligated, inter alia, to provide 99% network availability?” asks Furman.

He says ISPA has made a submission calling for the regulations to take into account the variety of services provided by its members. The quality of service matric for latency is a good example. This is proposed by ICASA to be not more than 150-200ms, which is fine over a fixed network but creates difficulties for a member providing broadband over satellite.

“ISPA’s position is that the current regulations should be repealed and replaced with a new set of regulations formulated to cater for specific broad categories of services offered by licensees by stipulating different sets of minimum standards for such broad categories of service.”

Further Information

For further information, please contact the ISPA secretariat on the Contact ISPA page.