Legal action against ICASA possible over licence fees

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) could face legal action over its new annual licence fee structure, with an Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) official telling HumanIPO it is “not off the table”.

HumanIPO reported last week ICASA had published its new framework, introducing a sliding scale for licence fees.

However, crucially the previous exemption for licence holders who turned over less than ZAR13 million (US$1.4 million) a year has been removed.

Speaking to HumanIPO Dominic Cull, ISPA Regulatory Advisor, said: “It is somewhat curious that the removal of that exemption was at no time mentioned during the public consultation process. So it was surprising to see it in the final document.”

Cull said ISPA would have to wait to see what impact the new framework had on its members before deciding what, if any, action would be taken.

He said: “We are unhappy with the process, but at the end of the day it will be a factor of feedback from the members which will decide what we do next.”

ICASA have told ISPA a document will be published within the next two or three weeks which will outline the reasons for the new framework.

Asked if legal action was possible, Cull added: “It is certainly not off the table. Prudence says wait to see what the document says.”

He said he agreed in principle with the introduction of a sliding scale which will see those companies that produce more than ZAR1 billion (US$108 million) a year pay 0.35 per cent to the regulator at the top end, and those with less than ZAR50 million (US$5.4 million) in revenue a year pay 0.15 per cent.

“One of the drums we have been beating for a long time is we have a one size fits all regulatory approach,” he said.

“There was no distinction between the giant operators and the smaller providers. We agree with sliding scale in principle. There should be some distinction.”

Posted in: Internet

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