vodacomís Proposed amendments TO THE ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS BILL (17.11.2005)

Insertions in underlined font

Deletions in strikethrough font

Vodadomís comments are limited to section 10 and section 93(4)(b). Vodacom proposes minor amendments to these sections accompanied by motivations below.

CHAPTER 3

LICENSING FRAMEWORK

Motivation for amendment to section 10:

In terms of section 48 of the current Telecommunications Act, a MCTS licence may only be amended:

The proposed Bill introduces additional grounds for amendment of an individual licence:

- if the amendment is in pursuance of an in accordance with the regulations made under Chapter 10.

The Bill thus proposes that ICASA can amend a licence in response to a finding by the Complaints and Compliance Committee or in accordance with regulations in Chapter 10 or at any time if in its opinion it relates to universal access or universal service or to ensure the achievement of the objectives of this Act. In other words, ICASA is empowered to increase universal service and access obligations at any time without completing a market analysis and assessment process to identify the true access gap and the most appropriate, proportionate and least intrusive regulatory remedy to address any such gaps. ICASA can also amend licences by linking the necessity of such amendments to objectives of the Act

This clearly places any investor in an untenable position since it is unable to determine the totality of its obligations for incorporation into its business case. Licenced rights can also be amended by qualifying the need for amendment in terms of the objectives of the Act. A key criterion for investment is a stable and predictable regulatory environment. These broad sweeping powers of the Authority to amend licence and increase obligations in this manner will deter investors and will result in existing investors re-evaluating such investments.

To address the above investor concerns, it is proposed that amendments to licences should be in consultation with licencees, or alternatively, after consultation with licensees on the basis that such amendments will not cause undue prejudice to licensees.

  1. Amendment of individual licence

  1. The Authority may amend an individual licence in after consultation with the licensee Ė
    1. to make the terms and conditions of the individual licence consistent with terms and conditions being imposed generally in respect of all individual licences of the same type;
    2. for purpose of ensuring fair competition between licencees;
    3. to the extent requested by the licensee provided it will not militate against orderly frequency management and will not prejudice the interests of other licensees;
    4. to the extent necessitated by technological change or in the interest of orderly frequency management;
    5. in accordance with a decision made by the Authority in terms of section 17E of the ICASA Act following a finding and recommendation by the Complaints and Compliance Committee;
    6. where the Authority is satisfied that the amendment is necessary to ensure the achievement of the objectives of this Act;
    7. if the amendment relates to universal access or universal service and is necessary, in the opinion of the Authority, as a result of-
      1. changed circumstances in the market; or

      (ii) lack of electronic communications network services, broadcasting services, or electronic communications services in specifically identifies areas of the Republic.

    8. if the amendment is in pursuance of and in accordance with the regulations under Chapter 10.

    (2) The provisions of sections 9(2) to (6) apply, with the necessary changes, to the amendment of an individual licence.

     

    OR

     

     

    10. Amendment of individual licence

  2. The Authority may amend an individual licence in after consultation with the licensee provided that the amendment will not unduly prejudice the interests of the licensee Ė
    1. to make the terms and conditions of the individual licence consistent with terms and conditions being imposed generally in respect of all individual licences of the same type;
    2. for purpose of ensuring fair competition between licencees;
    3. to the extent requested by the licensee provided it will not militate against orderly frequency management and will not prejudice the interests of other licensees;
    4. to the extent necessitated by technological changes or in the interest of orderly frequency management;
    5. in accordance with a decision made by the Authority in terms of section 17E of the ICASA Act following a finding and recommendation by the Complaints and Compliance Committee;
    6. where the Authority is satisfied that the amendment is necessary to ensure the achievement of the objectives of this Act;
    7. if the amendment relates to universal access or universal service and is necessary, in the opinion of the Authority, as a result of-
      1. changed circumstances in the markets; or

      (ii) lack of electronic communications network services, broadcasting services, or electronic communications services in specifically identifies areas of the Republic.

    8. if the amendment is in pursuance of and in accordance with the regulations under Chapter 10.

(2) The provisions of sections 9(2) to (6) apply with the necessary changes, to the amendment of an individual licence.

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 15

TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

Motivation for amendment to section 93:

Subsection 93 (1) of the Bill state that existing licences must be converted by granting one or more new licences on no less favourable terms. However, subsection 93(4)(b) should be made consistent with the terms of conversion, i.e. "no less favourable" as stipulated in subsection 93(1) in that additional rights must accompany commensurate obligations during the licence conversion process. The insertion of the words, "additional" and "commensurate" ensure that subsections 93(1) and 93(4)(b) are aligned and will not create uncertainty during the licence conversion process.

 

93. Licence conversion

(4) (b) As part of the conversion process, the Authority may grant additional rights and impose commensurate obligations on the licensee, in order to ensure that the existing licences comply with this Act, including the continuation of any obligations imposed upon existing licensees by virtue of a previous determination. Such obligations remain in force until such time as the Authority completes a review in terms of section 67(8).

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