Johannesburg - The ICT Chamber has said the Independent Communications Authority (Icasa) has gone beyond its powers by temporarily suspending the timeline for the licensing of the Wireless Open Access Network (Woan).
The chamber said this is inconsistent with the policy directive on the licensing of a Wireless Open Access Network.
Managing director of the chamber Loyiso Tyira said if the Woan is not prioritised it will result in competition being compromised and a failure to address the imbalances of the past.
“The current dominant players will continue to dominate the sector and data prices will remain high. The Woan will introduce a new player in the telecoms sector, which will be able to compete with the current dominant players,” said Tyira.
With Woan, according to Tyira, smaller network providers will have access to competitive bandwidth prices from a wholesale provider rather than a provider they must compete with.
“The successful bidder for the Woan will be running a wholesale business which will have lower overheads than the other mobile operators,” he said.
Tyira said this will allow the new players to provide lower data rates and access to data. He said the Woan business model will make it easier to provide data services in rural areas as its mandate is to have data services accessible across the country.
“The Woan Information Technology Agreement (ITA) has also ensured participation and ownership from historically disadvantaged individuals, namely black persons, black women, disabled individuals etc. The Woan must be made a priority as it will assist in transforming the sector and will create business opportunities for historically disadvantaged individuals,” added Tyira.
He said Woan would definitely create local entrepreneurs and will have to contract with the successful bidder of the Woan to assist building Woan infrastructure and maintaining it.
“This will in turn create new business opportunities and jobs. Since the Woan will make it easier for people to provide data services in rural areas, this will create the need for ICT and entrepreneurial skills in rural areas,” he said.
Efforts to try and get comments from Icasa proved unsuccessful at the time of going to publishing.