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WAPA Stance on Incoming Cabinet & Neotel Acquisition

by Shiko Gathoni
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Wireless Access Providers’ Association of SouthAfrica (WAPA) acting as a collective voice for the wireless industry and for independent wireless network operators has engaged top personel; Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, and Siyabonga Cwele as Minister of the newly-formed department of telecommunications and postal services in a bid to create a framework ICT policy for the next five years.

Its planned initiatives are critical to creating an enabling environment for fair and open competition and consumer protection, such that the telecommunications industry can achieve the objectives set out in last year’s SA connect National Broadband policy.

Vodacom having announced plans to acquire 100% of Neotel should generate some urgency for the priorities and focus of the new administration. WAPA is however concerned by the accelerating trend towards consolidation in the telecommunications industry although Vodacom’s transaction remains subject to approval by the regulator and Competition Commission.

The acquisition will however help promote and ensure fair competition as well as provide a high-quality operator with nationwide reach, capable of delivering retail services to consumers and wholesale services to the industry, including WAPA members. Neotel has an excellent track record of engagement and partnership with WAPA members in collaborative projects. It is WAPA’s hope that this collaborative approach would continue in the event of Neotel being owned by Vodacom.

WAPA calls on the Department of Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services to prioritise spectrum policy and the associated regulatory framework. The body will however continue to engage government and other industry stakeholders via public forums such as this week’s Future Wireless Technologies Forum with the regulator, Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and industry as well as white paper on spectrum policy that will be published in the upcoming weeks.

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