Tag: Icasa

Bankrupt Post Office wants to stop couriers

By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband

Items like smartphones, small electronics, bank cards, and medication may soon only be delivered through the Post Office.

This is if it wins its court face-off with PostNet and the South African Express Parcel Association (SAEPA) over the delivery of packages weighing 1kg and less.

ICASA’s Complaints and Compliance Commission (CCC) in late 2019 ruled that PostNet had contravened the Postal Services Act by transporting and delivering such packages.

According to the regulations, only a licensed postal services operator may render services defined as “reserved postal services.”

As the only operator of this kind in South Africa, the Post Office has the exclusive right to provide delivery services for all letters, postcards, printed matter, small parcels, and other postal articles up to and including 1kg.

PostNet was initially ordered to stop delivering all packages weighing 1kg and less by 17 March 2020.

However, it secured an interdict which has allowed it to continue to deliver these packages until the full challenge is heard in the Gauteng High Court.

It has been joined by SAEPA, who represents courier companies like FedEx, DHL, UPS, CourierIT, RAM, and Globeflight.

The organisation has told MyBroadband that the impact could be disastrous if the court ruled in the Post Office’s favour.

Shopping delivery storage

Individual South African customers and online shopping companies rely on private couriers to deliver many products to their homes on time and with efficiency.

The SA Post Office’s services, by contrast, have been in a decline over the last few years, with packages often reported as lost or stolen.

In addition, the majority of its offering only delivers to branches and not directly to the customer’s home.

SAEPA CEO Garry Marshall said that many of the products currently carried by private couriers fell into the sub-1kg category which the Post Office is laying claim to.

“It just covers such a broad range of commodities across the board,” Marshall said.

“The most dramatic that people can relate to are medications, cell phones, and electronic equipment.”

He provided the example of someone working from home who would need to order a small router.

If the Post Office wins the case, a customer would need to have it shipped through them.

If they opt not to use the Speed Services door-to-door option, they would have to pick it up at the Post Office.

Takealot delivery

More worryingly is that many people won’t be able to use other couriers to get their prescribed medication delivered.

“The courier industry delivers hundreds of thousands of chronic medication shipments directly to people’s homes per month,” Marshall said.

“If those are under 1kg – as many of them are – then of course that would be impacted by it.”

When asked about the specific items which would be reserved to its services, the Post Office simply said that “all items below 1kg” formed part of its mandate.

“Exceptions are the items listed on SAPO’s prohibited guide, for example dangerous goods such as gunpowder,” it added.

Sub-1kg products which are often transported and delivered by courier services include:

  • Bank cards
  • Important financial and legal documents
  • Vehicle licences
  • Electronics like smartphones, wearables, routers, and dongles
  • Computer components
  • SIM cards
  • Clothing
  • Medicine
  • Fast food
  • Car parts
  • rain new logo SIM

Many MyBroadband readers have suggested that courier companies could bypass the regulations by simply adding more weight to small packages to push them over the 1kg mark.

Marshall said, however, that they could not realistically consider this.

“You can’t do that as a rule,” he stated.

“We have to be compliant with the law and anything that artificially inflates things to circumvent the law makes it very difficult for us to perform.”

“New legislation will simply come in that will say that you can’t artificially inflate the weight of something,” Marshall said.

 

Smartphone penetration in SA surpasses 90%

According to the 2020 State of the ICT Sector report, the influx of mid- to low-cost smartphone brands in South Africa has resulted in smartphone penetration jumping to 91,2% in 2019.

  • This figure represents a 9.5% increase from 2018 to 2019
  • Just four years ago, that figure was 43.5%
  • ICASA recorded 53.4-million smartphone subscriptions as at 30 September 2019, up by more than 6-million since 2018
  • Total mobile cellular phone voice subscriptions increased by 5.7% from 91-million in 2018 to 96 million in 2019
  • 82-million (85%) are on prepaid subscriptions, while 14-million (15%) are on contract
  • Total prepaid mobile phone subscriptions in urban areas was at 77.5-million in 2019, with postpaid subscriptions at 13.7-million
  • In rural areas, prepaid mobile phone subscriptions were at 4.7-million to just over 885 000 postpaid
  • Mobile cellular data subscriptions increased by 18.8% from 65-million in 2018 to 78 million in 2019
  • Fixed-line voice subscriptions decreased by 38% from 4.4-million in 2018 to 2.7-million in 2019
  • Fibre-to-the-home/building Internet subscriptions increased by 28.8% for the same period
  • Wireless broadband subscriptions increase by 25% from 185 327 in 2018 to 231 687 in 2019
  • The national population coverage for 3G increased from 99.5% in 2018 to 99.7% in 2019
  • 4G/LTE coverage increased from 85.7% in 2018 to 92.8% in 2019

SA may free up spectrum during lockdown

South Africa is considering giving telecoms companies increased spectrum (or airwave capacity), as millions of people switch to home working, testing networks and driving up data traffic, the communications minister said on Wednesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown from midnight on Thursday in an address on Monday, saying Africa’s most advanced economy needed to escalate its response to the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 709 people in the country.

The telecoms industry, which is regulated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), has experienced a spike in network data traffic in recent days after thousands of schools and universities were forced to shut down.

Telkom told Reuters that it is seeing increases of 15% to 30% in data consumption across mobile and fixed connectivity, while MTN Group said it was too early to quantify the surge in data traffic.

MTN, Telkom and Vodacom are already providing free access to health sites and e-school platforms to support home learning and teaching, while MTN has waived fees on mobile money transactions in certain markets.

While South African telecoms operators say their networks have been able to cope so far, there are fears of congestion as more people work from home.

“One envisages a situation where there will be too much traffic on the network,” Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams told journalists, adding that ICASA is considering providing temporary additional spectrum.

The minister said that telecoms companies will be required to return the spectrum once the situation normalises.

“ICASA is currently engaging with sector licensees on possible ways of (providing) radio frequency spectrum relief for the duration of the declared state of disaster,” ICASA spokesman Paseka Maleka confirmed in an email.

“This is mainly to ease congestion, ensure good quality of broadband services and to enable licensees to lower cost of access to consumers (particularly in relation to education, emergency and other social services).”

Vodacom told Reuters that it will be engaging ICASA to “gain access to spectrum on a temporary basis.”

“Vodacom has also taken a decision to significantly ramp up investment spend in the short term to help manage network congestion,” group spokesman Byron Kennedy said in an email.

MTN fined R5m for hiking WhatApp bundle prices

By Kgomotso Modise for EWN 

The network has been slapped with a R5-million fine for failing to notify authorities in time before hiking the price of its 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle.

MTN says it believes its penalty from Icasa in the 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle case should be proportional to its transgression.

The network has been slapped with a R5 million fine for failing to notify authorities in time before hiking the price of its 1 gigabyte monthly WhatsApp bundle. At least R2 million of the fine is suspended for 3 years.

In a statement, MTN spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan details multiple instances where the network notified Icasa of its intentions to increase the price of its 1GB monthly WhatsApp bundle.

She said they also wrote to Icasa shortly before the price hike but there was no response and it went ahead with the adjustment.

MTN said it respected the role of the authority and insisted that, at the time, the company believed that increasing the price of the bundle was the only way to ensure the continued functionality of MTN SA’s 3G network.

The network said it was very aware of the required Icasa timing, which was why it applied for leniency.

MTN will be taking the decision on review to the High Court.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) could‚ in an “extreme” case‚ have its licence revoked.

That is according to the Independent Communication Authority of SA’s (Icasa’s) Rubben Mohlaloga when questioned by 702’s John Robbie about SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s reaction to its ruling against the broadcaster.

Motsoeneng had on Monday said “no one will tell us what to do” after Icasa made a decision that compels the SABC to reverse its ban on airing the destruction of property during protests.

Mohlaloga told 702 on Tuesday that various sanctions — from a caution to a fin‚ and‚ in extreme cases‚ a licence being “suspended or revoked” — were available to Icasa if the broadcaster did not comply with its rulings.

He says the SABC had seven days to comply or indicate that it would take the ruling on legal review.

The SABC’s Kaizer Kganyago later on Tuesday told the radio station that the SABC would take the decision to the courts‚ echoing Motsoeneng’s vow on Monday to approach the High Court or the Constitutional Court for relief.

“We are challenging that ruling … we are equal to the task‚” says Motsoeneng.

He had also said all newsrooms censored news in taking daily publishing decisions.

The fact that no good news was published showed that there was censorship in all news organisations‚ he says.

In May‚ Media Monitoring Africa‚ the SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition and the Freedom of Expression Institute lodged a complaint with Icasa’s complaints and compliance committee‚ challenging the validity of the SABC’s ban on protests.

In the aftermath of the ban‚ a number of senior journalists at the broadcaster face disciplinary action for questioning the decision.

The media briefing was disturbed by a protester who shouted “away with Hlaudi” and “history will judge you”. He was subsequently removed by security.

Source: www.bdlive.co.za

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