Communities across the country are increasingly insisting on open access fibre optic cable installations which provide a neutral platform for ISPs to compete with each other to the benefit of tenants and residents.
That’s the word from South Africa’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) which says elected representatives of gated communities, estates and business parks are gradually adopting a hard line with fibre providers some of whom still refuse to do business openly and transparently.
“There’s a clear trend towards homeowners’ associations, body corporates, residents’ associations and property developers rejecting any potential fibre installation that does not allow for multiple Internet service providers to compete for owners’ and tenants’ business,” says Graham Beneke, ISPA chair.
“They are doing this because they recognise that open access fibre networks provide the best of high-quality, affordable connectivity for consumers while increasing the value of property in the estate or community”.
“It is imperative that communities choose open access providers and that clauses to this effect are always inserted in any written agreements with planned fibre providers,” adds Beneke.
Consumers should be free to choose who they buy Internet access or data from and this is firmly in line with stated Government policy. In October 2016, Government outlined the right of consumers to choose their service provider as a key requirement of the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper. It requires fair and sustainable service-based competition “which will increase consumer choice (of service providers and of services), reduce costs and increase innovation.”
Not all networks, however, want to provide a platform for competition. They do not want competition at the services level and actively work against it. The ISPA’s view is that this is not in the best interests of consumers and needs to be addressed to reduce the cost to communicate, poor service levels and a lack of innovation.
ISPA’s belief has always been that vigorous competition in the services layer is imperative for increased innovation and value for money. “Network deployment agreements that deny subscribers the choice of service provider represent a disservice to that community where the network is to be deployed and denies them their right of choice,” concludes Beneke.