At the time of writing, Icasa had just wrapped up two days of hearings on the matter, in which a variety of industry players and some of the related unions made submissions as to why LLU is a good or bad thing.
Whether it’s good or bad is about to become a moot point, because the longer it takes for the regulator to make a decision, the closer we get to the end of the window of opportunity in which LLU can make any real difference. While the regulator is trying to complete its process, many of the local players are rolling out fibre, Telkom’s copper is getting older, and the company is losing fixed-line customers. Consumers and businesses are generally getting on with doing what they need to do to become and remain connected. All of which reduces the case for LLU.
And even if Icasa manages to get regulations finalised between now (as I write this on 17 October) and the end of the month when you’ll be reading it, implementing LLU is a complicated process that will take a lot of wrangling, and is defi nitely going to be held up by Telkom, which has no incentive to rush off and help the regulator give access to its network to its competitors.
Meanwhile, we’ve heard nothing about the spectrum auctions, and the Digital Dividend (to be realised when we migrate to digital terrestrial TV) is not likely to be realised any time soon. Both of these could give spectrum to players that could take it and roll out services to rural and urban customers, at less cost, less time, and likely a lot less legal wrangling than LLU will entail.
Yes, LLU is also about the precedent – if we unbundle the wired local loop, the way is paved to unbundle the wireless local loop, something the mobile operators are not at all keen on. But can we at least try to run some of these processes concurrently? Anyone?