New entrant, ECN, is fighting the good fight to bring improved services, at reasonable costs, to customers.
“In a well-functioning market, competing suppliers are incentivised to reduce costs and innovate with new products and services. Unfortunately the current regulatory roadblock is preventing this from happening and the ultimate loser is the consumer. ICASA has finally issued the new electronic communications licenses. However, until ICASA introduces the pro-competitive regulations mandated in the ECA, the issuance of the new licenses will have minimal impact on the industry, as licensees will still be operating in a climate of uncertainty that favours incumbents and hampers competition,” says Jeremy Macdonald, head of regulatory and legal affairs at ECN.
The good fight that many of the new entrants have waged in recent years has played a major role in liberalising the market. ECN has played its part – emphasising the need to introduce competition at every possible opportunity. The company has made various submissions to the regulator on what it believes is the right way to approach the market. Macdonald says the freedom of the communications industry is the responsibility of all players, both emerging and incumbent. “Every one of the businesses operating in this market has both the right and the responsibility to promote competition.”
ECN has often punched above its weight in the fight for liberalisation. Macdonald believes this is a product of the company’s culture. “As a company, we really believe in creating a well serviced and competi tive environment for all our customers. To achieve that, we have to be extremely motivated and ambitious. As proof, the company was first in line at the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to receive its electronic communications network services license (ECNS) – the slip of paper that gives the company the same rights and privileges as Vodacom and Telkom. “An ECNS license is not a silver bullet for telecoms liberalisation, but it is a good start. The license gives us the right to participate in regulatory processes previously reserved for the incumbents.”
Look To The Future
Other pro-competitive regulations the company is hoping to make a mark on are: non-discriminatory numbering, fixed line number portability, cost based interconnection and facilities leasing, carrier pre-selection and local loop unbundling. These regulations allow it to compete with the incumbents on an equal basis which will ultimately reduce costs and benefit consumers. For Macdonald, the next year in telecoms will be incredibly exciting and he hopes to take ECN to the forefront of the fight to liberalise the local market.