Parliament schedules ECA Bill public hearings

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Telecoms sector players will be able to provide oral submissions on the ECA Bill.
Telecoms sector players will be able to provide oral submissions on the ECA Bill.

The portfolio committee on telecommunications and postal services in Parliament will next week hold public hearings on the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill (ECA Bill).

The notice, published yesterday, says the hearings will be an opportunity for role players in the telecoms sector to provide oral submissions on the provisions contained in the ECA Bill.

In January, telecoms operators and industry players submitted written comments on the Bill, and in March, stakeholders participated in a consultation workshop on the proposed legislation.

The Cabinet-approved Bill looks to give effect to the policy objectives set out in the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper, published in late 2016. It contains provisions such as spectrum allocation, the wholesale open access network and rapid deployment policy. Some stakeholders are concerned it will have far-reaching implications for ICT policy in SA.

According to the portfolio committee, MTN, Telkom, Vodacom and the South African Communications Forum are some of the industry bodies that will make oral presentations.

"The Bill was tabled before the National Assembly by minister of telecommunications and postal services, Siyabonga Cwele, and seeks to amend the Electronic Communications Act of 2005, so as to provide for transformation of the sector through enforcement of broad-based black economic empowerment.

"It also provides for, among other things, lowering of cost of communications, reduction in infrastructure duplication, and encouragement of service-based competition through a wholesale open access network."

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