Icasa mulls four options for unbundling the local loop

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has proposed four models for unbundling the fixed-line local loop, which would give Telkom’s rivals access to the company’s “last mile” of copper cable infrastructure.

Unbundling is seen as an important way of promoting competition in broadband and potentially driving down prices.

The first option mooted by Icasa is “bitstream” or wholesale access. This option doesn’t entail unbundling of the physical copper cable infrastructure, but rather Telkom providing other operators with access on a wholesale basis. Rivals won’t have access to Telkom’s network infrastructure, so it’s an option that the fixed-line incumbent may prefer.

In its discussion document, Icasa says the advantage of bitstream access is that it won’t “hinder any progressive modernisation of the local access network by replacing copper cables with fibre cables”.

The second option Icasa has proposed is line sharing, or shared access to the local loop. In this model, Telkom and companies seeking access its local loop can share the same line where both provide different services such as voice and data on the same loop.

“In this situation, consumers can acquire data services from facilities seekers [other operators] while retaining the voice services of the facilities provider [Telkom]. Some facilities seekers may choose to offer data services only, so with line sharing customers can retain their facilities provider for voice calls while getting higher bandwidth services from another operator without the need to install a second line,” Icasa says.

Technically, the authority explains, a splitter is installed in the “main distribution frame” that separates the frequencies for voice telephony and those for higher bandwidth services. “Line sharing allows the facilities seeker to provide the service of their choice by covering either low-frequency bands or high-frequency bands,” it says. “When one frequency band is occupied by one operator, the other frequency band can be occupied by another operator.”

Icasa says this option would broaden choices available to consumers as they could choose Telkom as their voice provider while at the same time choosing a new entrant, or any other operator, as the provider of broadband internet services over the same loop.

The third option that Icasa has tabled is full local-loop unbundling, or full access. This assigns the entire copper local loop to rival operators. In this model, other operators may place all required equipment inside or outside Telkom’s premises. Rival operators take over the full operation of the local loop allocated to them.

The final option is sub-loop unbundling, where Telkom’s rivals get access to its “primary connection point” at street level. This form of unbundling is more suited to new forms of digital subscriber line technology, such as very high-speed DSL.

In this model, Telkom’s rivals would provide their own networks all the way to the primary connection point. They locate their equipment adjacent to the connection point rather than in Telkom’s telephone exchanges. In all other respects, sub-loop unbundling is analogous to full local-loop unbundling.

Icasa has said it should complete regulations for unbundling by no later than November, after it has consulted with industry stakeholders. Communications minister Roy Padayachie has said previously that he wants unbundling to be completed by that date. — TechCentral

Staff Reporter
Guest Author

ANC and the state step back from taking action against...

Despite alleged abuses of power and people’s trust, the ANC appears to have abandoned plans to reform the controversial Ingonyama Trust Board

Mkhwebane moves to halt ‘grossly unfair’ impeachment process

Mkhwebane moves to halt ‘grossly unfair’ impeachment process

Chaos theory: How Jürgen Klopp has harnessed the unpredictable

The Liverpool manager has his side playing unstoppable football but it’s the attention to detail off the field that has bred the success

Miners speak out against Sibanye

Not a year into buying Lonmin, Sibanye is accused of mistreating the mineworkers who were injured eight years ago during the Marikana massacre. But the platinum giant says it is a miscommunication. Athandiwe Saba and Paul Botes visit Marikana to find out the truth

Press Releases

Wellcome Trust award goes to UKZN mental health champion

Dr Andr? J van Rensburg, a senior researcher in UKZN's Centre for Rural Health, received the Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award.

MTN gears up to deliver improved customer service

On 28 January, the first batch of MTN contract customers will be migrated onto the new customer service platform.

Request for expression of interest on analysis of quality and outcome indicators for regional and district hospitals in Lesotho

Introduction The Ministry of Health of Lesotho with the support of the World Bank funded Nutrition and Health Systems Strengthening...

MiX Telematics enhances in-vehicle video camera solution

The company has launched the gold MiX Vision Bureau Service, which includes driver-coaching tools to ensure risky driver behaviour can be addressed proactively and efficiently.

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA