An open-access network policy enables wholesale access to network infrastructure or services on transparent and non-discriminatory terms at fair and reasonable pricing.
At a technical level, an open-access network is generally made up as a horizontally layered network architecture in which physical access to the network is separated from the delivery of services. Hence the company that owns the network does not supply services. Services are supplied on a non-discriminatory and fair basis by one or more separate Layer 2 Retail Service Providers/’OAVNOs’ in a Service-Integrated model.
Open access arrangements are crucial for promoting competition, greater consumer choice and lower pricing, and one of the major benefits is that such arrangements allow new telecommunication service businesses to connect to existing networks so negating the need to duplicate infrastructure.
Does Open Access have a place in SA?
Open access policies have played a major role in promoting competition in broadband markets especially in countries that had little infrastructure competition initially such as Australia, Qatar, Malaysia and Singapore, to name a few. A number of open access networks have been deployed in SA with great success. Examples include the national fibre network deployed by FibreCo, the carrier-grade Wi-Fi network provided by VAST Networks, as well as the Metro and Regional Networks by Dark Fibre Africa.
Although, according to Research ICT Africa, 86% of South Africans reside within 10KM of a fibre node, no more than 50% of the population experience broadband access exceeding 5Mbp speeds.