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ICASA chairman slated over World Cup comments

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Paris Mashile, Chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), has been severely criticized for his recent comments questioning the ability of South Africa’s mobile network operators to adequately provide mobile services during the FIFA World Cup 2010 football tournament.

Mashile made these comments at a recent business breakfast hosted jointly by the Mail & Guardian newspaper and fixed line operator Neotel. In comments made during the event, he accused mobile operators of over-subscription and lacking network resources to prevent failure of their network infrastructure, resulting in dropped calls and delayed messages.

These comments come following a call earlier this month by ICASA for network operators to explain a spate of recent mobile failures, such as region-specific network problems and delays. This call resulted in the meetings between the regulator and Vodacom, MTN and Cell C.

In response to the comments, representatives from network operators stated that they have performed adequate planning for the increased mobile traffic during the World Cup event, and that the networks will be ready to provide world-class mobile services to both South African customers and foreign visitors.

The strongest rebuke of Mashile’s comments came for the Fifa World Cup Local Organizing Committee (LOC). LOC spokesperson Rich Mkondo echoed the sentiments of the network providers, saying that all preparations for the event, including issues surrounding communications, were on track.

The LOC also indicated that Mashile had not been in contact with them to discuss his concerns, prior to making these comments.

— Charl Lombard

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