Leasing electronic communications equipment or facilities from an ECNS licensee

Leasing electronic communications equipment or facilities from an ECNS licensee
04 Sep 2020

Facilities-leasing refers to the act of leasing electronic communications equipment or facilities or part of them, by one ECNS licensee from another ECNS licensee. This enables sharing of network elements but not spectrum.

Electronic communications facilities defined

The sector law defines them as including but not limited to, wire including wiring in multi-tenant buildings; undersea and land-based fibre optic cables; antennae; masts; satellite transponders; circuits; cable landing stations; international gateways; earth stations; radio apparatus; exchange buildings; data centres; carrier-neutral hotels; collocation space; monitoring equipment; space on or within poles, ducts, cable trays, manholes, handholds and conduits; and associated support systems, sub-systems and services ancillary to these facilities or otherwise necessary to control connectivity of the various facilities for the proper functionality, control, integration and use of those facilities.

Electronic communications networks defined

A network is any system of electronic communications facilities including satellite systems, fixed (circuit and packet-switched), mobile systems, undersea and land-based fibre optic cable systems, other transmission systems used for conveyance of electronic communications including electricity cable systems.

ICASA has not formally determined whether active network elements are capable of being leased or shared either in a  Multi-Operator Core Network (“MOCN“) or MORAN form.

The purpose of facilities-leasing

For the lessor: a source of annuity income which is not regulated; a competitive advantage; a capital asset that generates revenue.

For the lessee: a reduction in capex; the appearance to the consumer of national, provincial or municipal coverage; flexibility in choice of technology.

For the State: a reduction in environmental harm, an increase in competition at the service level, a reduction in costs to produce services leading to a reduction in charges to consumers.

Regulation

Chapter 8 of the sector law requires all  Electronic communications network services (“ECNS”) licensees to lease facilities on request to other licensees or licence-exempt entities, unless the request is not technically and economically feasible and will not promote the efficient use of electronic communications networks and services. Dominance in this area has not been established, although it exists.

The Facilities Leasing Regulations, 2010, such as they are, offer a template, provide for dispute resolution, and require agreements to be filed with ICASA.

Spectrum-sharing or leasing is not permitted.

Did you know?

National roaming is a species of facilities-leasing, but it is not regulated. It is, however, a useful alternative to facilities leasing.

See also:

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
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