Pretoria - Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele has welcomed the Cabinet decision to approve the National Integrated Information Communication Technology (ICT) Policy White Paper.
The ICT Policy replaces the separate White Papers on Telecommunications (1996) and Postal Services (1998).
The White Paper rests on the Constitutional principle that precludes the State from unfairly discriminating against citizens, including discrimination on the basis of social origin.
Minister Cwele said the approval of the White Paper paves the way for the start of a legislative programme that will amend laws where necessary and set up the new proposed structures or institutions.
“This integrated ICT Policy outlines supply-side measures that will ensure the roll-out of quality communications and broadband infrastructure to reach all areas of the country to ensure universal access and services.
“[The paper] contains a new Open Access Policy that allows access to existing and future networks by all, and importantly by new entrants and SMMEs,” Minister Cwele said.
The policy aspect will reduce duplications in infrastructure roll-out and minimise the cost of extending the networks to reach the entire country. It also contains a new spectrum policy that facilitates spectrum sharing and equal access to the spectrum by all licensed operators, new entrants and SMMEs.
The Minister said the Rapid Deployment Policy contained in the White Paper will streamline permissions and access by network operators to enable faster and cheaper roll-out of services.
“The pace of rolling out networks has in the past been hampered by the bureaucracy associated with getting municipal and other permissions. The Rapid Deployment Policy will resolve this dilemma,” he said.
The White Paper further addresses demand-side interventions to ensure the wide spread uptake and usage of ICTs. Minister Cwele said the White Paper streamlines and consolidates government structures and outlines government priorities in terms of delivering services through the modern ICTs.
“Universal access to services is a key consideration. A universal funding strategy is outlined, with a digital fund being established to collect industry contributions and grants to support universal services and access.
“This White Paper responds to the development of technology, including convergence, digitisation, the increasing use of the internet, and how South Africans communicate, work and interact with government.
“This lays the foundation for realising the National Development Plan vision for the ICT sector to create a seamless information infrastructure by 2030 that will underpin a dynamic and connected vibrant information society and a knowledge economy that is more inclusive, equitable and prosperous,” the Minister said.
He said structures that do not require legislation will now be set up and consultations with South Africans will continue during the process to enact legislation. – SAnews.gov.za