The Independent Communication Authority of South Africa is a product of statute, the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa Amendment Act of 2000, amended in 2005.
ICASA was established in July 2000, as a merger of the telecommunications regulator, the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA) and the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA).
The ICASA Amendment Act 2005 also provided for the incorporation of the Postal Regulator into ICASA. The Amendment Act of 2005 also increased ICASA's council complement from seven to nine councillors.
The Authority is responsible for regulating the telecommunications, broadcasting and postal industries in the public interest and ensure affordable services of a high quality for all South Africans. The Authority also issues licenses to telecommunications and broadcasting service providers', enforces compliance with rules and regulations, protects consumers from unfair business practices and poor quality services, hears and decides on disputes and complaints brought against licensees and controls and manages the effective use of radio frequency spectrum. ICASA is a Chapter 9 institution (an institution which supports democracy) in terms of the South African Constitution and is a portfolio organisation of the Department of Communications (DoC).
Functions of ICASA
- To license broadcasters, signal distributors, providers of telecommunication services and postal services;
- To make regulations;
- To impose license conditions;
- To plan, assign, control, enforce and manage the frequency spectrum;
- To ensure international and regional co-operation;
- To ensure the efficient allocation of numbers;
- To ensure interoperability of networks;
- To receive and resolve complaints
Universal Service and Access
Universal Service and Access is the policy of the Government of South Africa that requires all people to have access to basic communication services at affordable prices. The role of ICASA as a regulator is central to achieving this goal. The Authority promotes the attainment of universal service and access by putting requirements in operators' licenses to roll out services in under-serviced areas and ensuring that licensees contribute to the Universal Service Fund. ICASA does not, however, administer the Universal Service Fund, but merely receives monies on behalf of the Universal Service Agency of South Africa (USAASA)
The Authority is also responsible for ensuring that relevant and appropriate broadcasting services are extended to all citizens.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) acts as a watchdog of the telecommunications, broadcasting and postal industries. The Authority is mandated to receive complaints from the public about services provided by telecommunications, broadcasting and postal licensees. The providers of telecommunications services and products have a duty to give consumers fair hearing and settlement with respect to complaints about poor services and faulty equipment. The Authority facilitates the resolution of these complaints or refers to the Complaint and Compliance Committee (CCC). The CCC is an independent committee of Council, headed by a judge of the High Court. The consumer affairs division is tasked to educate consumers about the role and functions of ICASA. It also educates them about the importance of understanding their rights, and the procedures in complaints handling.
The Authority is mandated to create competition in the telecommunications, broadcasting and the postal industries. In turn, competition brings about affordable prices for goods and services rendered and provides value for money to consumers.
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) mandates Parliament to establish an independent regulatory institution which is required to provide for the regulation of broadcasting in the public interest and to ensure fairness and a diversity of views broadly representing South African society (s 192).
The Broadcasting Act 4 of 1999
The Act clarifies the powers of the Minister and ICASA respectively and provides for the regulation of broadcasting activities in the public interest.
The Electronic Communications Act, No. 36 of 2005 (ECA), as amended
The ECA promotes convergence in the broadcasting, broadcasting signal distribution and telecommunications sectors and provides the legal framework for convergence of these sectors.
Substantive functions of the Authority pertain to issuing licences and regulating the broadcasting, electronic communications and postal services in South Africa.
ICASA has concurrent regulatory oversight/jurisdiction with the Competition Commission on competition matters (Chapter 10 of the ECA as well as section 4B(8)(b) of the ICASA Act).
The Postal Services Act, No. 124 of 1998
The Postal Services Act requires the Authority to licence and monitor the South African Post Office (SAPO) in relation to the promotion of customer care standards and the provision of universal service obligations, including the roll-out of street addresses and the provision of retail postal services in underserviced areas.
The Promotion of Administration Justice Act, No. 3 of 2000 (PAJA)
PAJA gives effect to the right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair and to the right to written reasons for administrative action, as contemplated in section 33 of the Constitution.
Department of Communications
The Department of Communications (DoC) policy framework is embedded within and aligned to broader government priorities and policy, as promulgated.
The Authority believes its strategic objectives will contribute directly to the DoC's outcomes as identified in the Minister's Performance Agreement, relating specifically to Outcome 12, namely providing an efficient, effective and development–oriented public service, and Outcome 14, which is to provide a diverse, socially cohesive society with a common national identity.
Outcome 12: providing an efficient, effective and development–oriented public service
Outcome 12 contemplates that information technology is an important tool for providing service delivery. It can be used to make services more accessible, reduce the cost of accessing services, streamline administrative processes and improve turnaround times, thus strengthening administrative accountability and responsiveness. It is the aim of government to identify those areas of IT that have the greatest potential to improve access to services.
Outcome 14: providing a diverse, socially cohesive society with a common national identity
Outcome 14 contemplates that sharing of common space across race and class will be enabled through instituting community dialogues. This will be promoted by the narrative that facilitates healing, social cohesion, nation building, dialogue and trust. This will require that the use of currently marginalised languages be
increased. Furthermore, the broadcast media, especially the national broadcaster, will be encouraged to air programmes that popularise narratives and visions of a non-sexist, non-racial, equal and democratic South Africa. The Authority will promote social cohesion through the licensing of regional and local broadcast media and promotion of the broadcast of local content.
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services policy framework The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) policy framework is embedded within and aligned to broader government priorities and policy, as promulgated. The Authority's strategic objectives contribute to the DTPS outcomes as identified in the Minister's Performance Agreement, relating specifically, to Outcome 6, namely an efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Act 13 of 2000, as Amended The Act establishes ICASA to:
perform its functions through Council as contemplated in section 5, and to be independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law, to be impartial
and to perform its functions without fear or favour.
exercise the powers and perform the duties conferred upon it.
act in a manner that is consistent with the obligations of the Republic under any applicable international agreement, according to section 231 of the Constitution.
conclude concurrent jurisdiction agreements with any regulator in respect of areas of regulatory overlaps.
Membership of Regional And International Bodies
In regulating the industry ICASA aligns its actions, policies and regulations with framework set by international and regional bodies to which it is affiliated.
These include the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU). In addition, there are regional and continental regulatory associations such as the Communications Regulatory Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) and the Pan African Postal Union (PAPU)