SNO 'must come soon' - Mbeki
Zeerust - President Thabo Mbeki says the second national operator (SNO) needs to be operational soon in order to address the high cost of telecommunications in the country, government BuaNews agency reported.
Speaking at a joint media briefing here after the meeting of the Presidential International Advisory Council on Information Society and Development, he said the SNO would be one of the ways to lower communications costs.
The SNO is set to become Telkom's rival.
Last month, shareholders in the SNO signed an agreement, making way for the issuing of the public switched telecommunication service (PSTS) licence by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).
The shareholders are Tata, Two Consortium and CommuniTel, Nexus Connexion, and state-owned enterprises Eskom (Esitel) and Transnet (Transtel).
President Mbeki said they were told in the meeting that in some countries communications costs were cheaper than in South Africa.
Sapa reports Mbeki as saying: "In South Africa you pay more than 25c for a line. In India, 5c for the same service. "
Mbeki added that they were advised to introduce technology at schools; however, it needed to be affordable to poor communities in rural areas.
The schools should operate as community centres providing technological services such as accessing government information of social grants, among others.
"The question we have to ask ourselves as government is how do we make sure that rural communities have access to this technology.
"We are dealing with communities that are poor, therefore access must be affordable, "he said.
Members of the council complemented the government on progress made in the telecommunication sector.
Giving an overview of the three-day meeting, communications minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri said the council advised them to concentrate on skills development for the youth mainly.
Dr Matsepe-Casaburri added the council acknowledged developments in South Africa regarding ICT; however, government still needed to put into place flexible regulations.
"The great focus was on wireless broadband access that would be affordable and as to how it could impact positively on the lives of the especially rural people giving the potential of these technologies to address the challenges of the second economy.
"We were advised to prioritise and focus on certain areas for ICT applications such as education, health, e-government and SMMEs," she said.
On education, they were advised about work-based learning. On health, they were advised to consider the national electronic patient records system that will assist in the development of a sound database and in planning.
On e-government, new ways of working were needed in the delivery of services by optimising digital, mobile, virtual, and personal processes. - BuaNews
I-Net Bridge (Business)