[20 March 2001] – The SA government’s recent disclosure of a new draft telecoms policy has met with the approval of several leading local e-players including M-Web and Kalahari.net.
“We welcome the clarity provided by government in this move and are also encouraged that the policy was released on time,” stated M-Webs CEO, Antonie Roux.
According to Roux the government’s move to licence a second fixed-line telecoms operator will lead to healthy competition.
Such competition could translate into lower Net access rates for consumers, believes Hein Pretorius, general manager of leading local e-tailer Kalahari.net.
Roux concurs, adding that lowered rates could “boost Internet and e-commerce uptake in South Africa.”
“Lower access rates invariably means an increased number of South Africans would be encouraged to embrace the online medium – obviously translating into revenue opportunity for us, but also further boosting the e-economy in South Africa in general,” he continued.
Although a new network operator could potentially drive down costs and facilitate e-commerce, Pretorius warned against a possible repeat of the disastrous third cellular licence fiasco.
“Government and regulators have hopefully learned their lesson and we look forward to a smooth licensing process geared at enabling the network to get up and running as soon as possible.”
As for Telkom, it seems to have been responding in recent months to the threat of immanent competition.
Roux claimed that M-Web had recently been receiving service of an exception standard from the old-behemoth.
“We have recently enjoyed the highest level of ‘uptime’, stable infrastructure and connectivity and a proactive service from Telkom,” stated Roux.
He also commended Telkom on its decision to let a new competitor use its infrastructure.
This approach may well signal a ‘new’, revitalised Telkom who could prove to be a formidable competitor in terms of service for a new fixed line operator, concluded Roux.