Cape Town – Open access is a fundamental principle of Vumatel’s fibre network deployment as it allows competition between service providers, says the coompany's head.
“I think open access is working very well because for the first time, service providers can really use the infrastructure on a fair, transparent and equal economic footing level rather than competing with an incumbent who might have higher or different pricing because they have the volume,” Niel Schoeman CEO of Vumatel told Fin24 at the AfricaCom tech show underway in Cape Town.
Open access has emerged as a critical principle as operators race to build fibre broadband networks and allow rivals to offer internet services.
“I think the consumer is starting to understand the benefits of this. There’s no duplication of the infrastructure and it really makes sense in a country like ours,” Schoeman said.
In South Africa, the government is currently considering a review of ICT policy and has highlighted the importance of an open, equitable internet.
National telecom Telkom recently announced the launch of the Openserve wholesale division intended to deliver open access broadband networks.
Schoeman indicated that Vumatel’s network is designed to seamlessly connect to other networks.
“We would connect to the other networks to facilitate for the service providers. If those networks are also open access it will make perfect sense.”
However, he expressed concern that rival networks were transparent in the pricing for connections.
“Most of the operators from mobile to fixed-line have said that open access is the way to go. The only interesting thing will be whether that will be on a fair and equal footing with their own retail services and I think that’s the fundamental question.”
While Shoeman welcomed Telkom’s move to launch Openserve, he echoed the sentiment by some that the division between retail and wholesale needs to be clear.
“I think it’s really a good step and it’s not enforced by government. It’s step further than I think their technical requirements would be.
“However, I think that separation needs to be complete. Just having another brand on top of wholesale and retail between that and really two separate entities of the wholesale network and a retail arm – there’s still shades of grey there that will take some time to sort out.”
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