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ICASA speaks up on Internet TV

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ICASA Chairman, Paris MashileSouth Africa’s communications regulator, ICASA is looking at implementing a regulatory framework for internet protocol television (IPTV).

The regulator hopes that this framework will speed up the introduction of triple play services – voice, internet and IPTV services in the country, according to local publication Business Day.

ICASA acknowledged that IPTV implementation was limited by broadband access in the country, currently very low.

“IPTV has not taken off in South Africa although there is considerable interest from a range of stakeholders, including current owners of broadcasting and electronic communication licences. As stated, more emphasis will be placed on the regulation of non-linear services”, reads the discussion document issued on IPTV framework.

Furthermore, the organization argues that the biggest impediment would be the high tariffs charged by operators for broadband access, adding that in Europe, for example, IPTV could expand easily as a result of high speed broadband internet access at affordable prices.

“International precedence shows that in addition to developing forward looking broadband policies, regulators also intervened in the broadband market by regulating the rates at which broadband internet access services are provided”, stated ICASA representatives.

To facilitate public discussion, ICASA has conducted an international benchmark exercise, analyzing how regulators in Europe, America and Asia have adopted IPTV regulations.

In Canada, IPTV and VOD (Video On Demand) were classified as broadcasting services and regulated under the category of broadcasting distribution companies and are issued a broadcasting license. On the other side, in South Africa, there are no such regulations in place.

According to the Department of Communications, the national broadband policy has to ensure that all citizens benefit from affordable broadband.

Even so, ICASA faces challenges as Internet is not regulated in South Africa as compared to broadcasting.
Analysts’ responses to the ICASA proposal were initially positive, however there is consensus that extensive market research to determine the viability of IPTV, needs to be conducted. ICASA will receive comments until March 26 regarding the initiative.

“Few people in SA have access to high-speed internet at home. The current high-speed internet service is not good enough for IPTV. There should be uncapped bandwidth for IPTV”, commented Steven Ambrose, an analyst at World Wide Worx.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Cost of broadband connections and limitations in bandwidth are the major hurdles preventing growth in IPTV in Africa. I have been following the African Internet TV market since late 2007. Though there has been some growth in online TV and video in Africa over the years, the growth is by far behind what it should have been if bandwidth prices had dropped significantly (like they should) over the years.

    With regulators stepping in, it will encourage innovation and the end users (viewers) will be the real winners by being able to conveniently consume African TV content and entertainment anytime and anywhere.

  2. Arthur says/asks…Icasa,Why are the costs of internet bandwith &Cell Costs, so high,This is a reason Why! IPTV Wont catch on YET..
    Seacom is about too make a difference,but Who ? on land is going too give reasonable rates,wireless is radio frequency and cost nothing…Its a monolopy by the BIG BOYS!!!.
    Poor South Africans pay an arm &and leg for Comms. its disgusting ..
    Please Control it..ICASA
    Big Mc… South African Citizen.

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