The Portfolio Committee on Communication has undertaken to closely monitor the successfully bidders' compliance with universal service obligations in the recent spectrum auction facilitated by the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
ICASA auctioned R14.48 billion worth of spectrum to six bidders in March this year. The bidders were Telkom, Liquid Telecom, Cell C, Rain, MTN and Vodacom.
The auctioned spectrum comes with universal services obligations to connect internet to various public institutions, including schools, clinics, police stations and tribal authority offices, among others.
The committee has called on the affected departments, led by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, to strengthen inter-governmental relations in order to ensure that the service obligations benefit previously disadvantaged groups.
"We should make sure that the actual impact of the universal service obligations on the ground is not reduced to payment of fines due to non-compliance. We will look into this matter, as part of our oversight, to make sure that things are not done only for compliance, but to serve the country's developmental goal," said Chairperson of the committee, Mr Boyce Maneli.
Meanwhile the committee was briefed by the Universal Services Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) on the framework and timelines for current litigation and implementation dates for consequence management processes. The committee encouraged USAASA to expedite cases, where possible, even if this means settling out of court.
"We appreciate that most of the things being dealt with in these cases are part of legacy issues. We should all draw lessons from these cases, in order to avoid the recurrence of mismanagement of entities," said Mr Maneli.