DoC says spectrum not black and white
Johannesburg - The department of communications (DoC) on Monday reiterated its challenge to ensure fair competition in the allocation of scarce radio frequency spectrum.
Speaking at the International Institute of Communications 2011 annual conference in Sandton on Monday, Communications Minister Roy Padayachie said: "We will need to make the right choices regarding the licensing of high demand spectrum, including the digital dividend."
Padayachie pointed to "tremendous competition for this scarce resource" with a number of ICT incumbents interested, "and then you hear the voices of those who have been excluded saying to government: we want access to the distribution of frequency to allow us access to resources so that we can come into the game.
"Unfortunately in the South African landscape, this problem is overlaid with very complex issues of race and colour and the way that it dominates the landscape of the economy."
The minister said it was important to create a balance in the country so that the utilisation of spectrum "brings our people together". He said it was important to create competition in the economy and, and allow the economy to thrive.
He said most importantly, spectrum allocation "must deliver and guarantee broadband for all".
"An interconnected world brings more advantages than disadvantages; the challenge lies in creating a conducive environment for all to reap the benefits of innovation and change," Padayachie said.
The DoC said that a solution to bridge the digital divide lay in the deployment of broadband in rural and other under-serviced areas without neglecting the quest for improved quality in the urban centres where the majority of the population resided.
Universal broadband access
In SA, government was committed to achieve universal broadband access by 2020 through the combination of fibre and wireless technologies as the main drivers.
The department said that a number of developed and developing countries had made significant strides in the aligning of their spectrum licensing policies with the national development imperatives.
"We have also taken note of trends towards the licensing of Open Access Network providers in a number of countries across the world. If implemented correctly, open access networks will help us fast track the roll-out of broadband in under-serviced areas.
"Organisations such as the IIC (International Institute of Communications) have a strategic role to play in ensuring that we develop workable models to building pro-competitive open access models," Padayachie said.
The minister said that South Africa also needed to start thinking of practical interventions to increase the uptake and usage of Green Technologies across the world. "To achieve this, we have to increase our investment in research and development through active collaboration with research and academic institutions throughout the world.
"ICTs should also provide the required platform for the communications of messages around climate change. As a sector, we have a responsibility to bring information on climate change at the disposal of all the people of the world, including the poorest within our respective countries," he said.
The DoC warned however, that while ICTs offered immense possibilities and opportunities, the sector could also provide a platform for criminal elements to manipulate individuals, institutions and even nation states. "Cyber-security is no longer a heresy, but a real challenge.
"In order to enjoy the benefits, all of us are called upon to act with the required haste to combat this scourge. All of us, as individuals, organisations and nation states, have a role to play and it is only through active collaboration that we will win this war.
"The war against cybercrime has to be won sooner before it gets too late," Padayachie said.