Minister says 'no' to VANS licences
This issue of why value added network services (VANS) were not being granted class electronic communications network service (ECNS) licences was brought up before communications minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri yesterday.
Matsepe-Casaburri had completed her presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications when Dene Smuts, the Democratic Alliance's communications spokesperson asked the question.
"I don't understand why these small companies are being frustrated. The original intention of the ECA (Electronic Communications Act), when it was drafted, was that these VANS and municipalities would simply let ICASA (the telecommunications regulator) know what they were doing and no permission was needed," she said.
Smuts referred to Matsepe-Casaburri's 2007 budget speech, where she said that ICASA had been issued with a policy directive to consider urgently whether none, or only certain, of the existing VANS licensees can be authorised to provide services, as well as to provide and operate electronic communications facilities or networks to ensure that such licensees are issued ECNS licences in addition to other licenses specified in the relevant section of the ECA.
An ECNS licence is broadly similar to that of a fully-fledged telecommunications operator in terms of the old Telecommunications Act. VANS, so far, are allowed only electronic communications service licences, which do not allow them to build and operate their own networks.
"As far as I am concerned, the minister should draft a new set of policy directives to create a multiple class of licensees to be treated as an organically grown layer," Smuts said.
Matsepe-Casaburri replied: "You have the democratic right to ask and I have the democratic right to say no. I cannot answer questions on spectrum allocation."
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