12 July 2011

ICASA publishes local loop unbundling discussion paper

ICASA has published a discussion paper on its framework for introducing local loop unbundling. The document outlines ICASA's initial views on the process to be followed to unbundle the local loop and solicits stakeholder comment on four potential options for the introduction of access to the local loop.

ICASA is of the view that access to the local loop is already mandated under the obligation to lease electronic communication facilities. The discussion document states that all licensees are obliged to lease facilities unless otherwise exempted by ICASA. As yet, ICASA has not exempted any licensees from the obligation. ICASA's aim, in embarking on a consultation process, is ultimately to introduce a stable regime for gaining access to a licensee's local network.

The options identified by ICASA for unbundling the local loop are:

  • Bitstream access, ie the provision of transmission capacity between the end user and the facilities seeker, where the point of interconnection is upstream of the provider's network edge broadband equipment.
  • Line sharing, ie the facilities provider retains the use of the loop for its baseband services but unbundles the higher frequency part of the spectrum for use by a facilities seeker, enabling the facilities seeker and provider to each provide different services to the end user on the same loop.
  • Full loop unbundling, ie the entire copper local loop is assigned to the facilities seeker, which means that the facilities seeker is able to install its own broadband equipment and collocate inside or outside the facilities provider's premises.
  • Sub loop unbundling, ie the facilities seeker accesses the network of the facilities provider at the primary connection point within the network at street level.

Stakeholders are invited to submit their written representations on the discussion paper by 14 September 2011. Interested persons may also request a meeting with ICASA on a one-to-one basis to discuss any matter related to the discussion paper. One-to-one engagements will be scheduled on request and on a first-come-first-served basis between 15 and 26 September 2011.

Kathleen Rice

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