SNO TELECOMMUNICATIONS (PTY) LTD
COMMENTS ON DRAFT ASTRONOMY
GEOGRAPHIC ADVANTAGE ACT OF 2006
SNO Telecommunications welcomes the opportunity to
comment on the draft Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act of 2006 (“the draft
Act”). The SNO would welcome the
opportunity to make an oral presentation in respect of its written submission
to the appropriate parliamentary portfolio committee dealing with this piece of
review of the draft Act, the SNO notes that the draft Act grants the Minister
of Science and Technology (“the Minister”) broad powers to regulate, amongst
other things, radio frequency spectrum that relates to astronomical use. This issue is of particular concern to the
SNO as it would create an inappropriate precedent of granting a Minister
control over radio frequency spectrum.
This would prospectively create confusion as to who between the Minister
and ICASA is charged with managing radio frequency spectrum that relates to astronomical
equal concern is the possibility that other Ministries may be granted similar
powers of control over radio frequency spectrum associated with their
Management Authority – the SNO would like to see the management of
astronomy advantage areas is transparent, consultative, nondiscriminatory and
Short range device – it would be beneficial for planning purposes if
the actual kilometer distance can be specified.
Ad para 4(1)(a) – Providing the draft Act with
prevalence over the Telecommunications Act as far as conflicts over radio
frequency interference are concerned, will erode the Telecommunications Act’s
and accompanying Radio Regulations’ authority as far as management of the radio
frequency spectrum is concerned. The
Telecommunications Act and accompanying Radio Regulations contain comprehensive
procedures for dealing with and removing radio frequency interference. For example, the Radio Regulations provide
for classifications of users such that a primary user is protected from
interference from a secondary user.
Secondary users are not protected from radio frequency interference from
primary users. We have not seen such a
level of detail in the draft Act.
Moreover, the radio frequency interference management procedures in the
Telecommunications Act and the Radio Regulations align to the International
Telecommunications Union, whereas the draft Act does not even contain
procedures for dealing with radio frequency interference.
Ad para 17: - Could co-management of core
or central astronomy advantage area include ICASA’s
participation to ensure apporopriate radio frequency
spectrum management? ICASA’s
participation would ensure that existing radio frequency spectrum management
procedures are adhered to and employed as per paragraphs 17(2)(b)
Ad para 22 – As per our General Comment
above, paragraph 22 of the draft Act grants the Minister power that the
Minister does not warrant. To empower
the Minister with control of radio frequency spectrum that relates to astronomy
purposes, would create unnecessary bureaucratic confusion
to the public, existing telecommunications service licensee and potential
What would be advisable would be for
the Minister to have to liaise with ICASA first and for ICASA to do the final
approval on protecting the radio frequency spectrum for astronomy observations. In doing so, the Minister would simply
provide ICASA with it radio frequency spectrum protection requirements for the
Ad para22(2)(a) – The Minister should not be
given this power. This role vests with
ICASA and should remain as such.
Ad para22(3)(a) – The Minister should have to
conduct the public participation in terms of the Telecommunications Act or at
least to consult with ICASA prior to the notice’s publication.
Ad para 24(2)(c) – This
particular power is quite broad. The SNO
would like to see some form of consultation taking place between the Minister
and affected parties in terms of this paragraph. More importantly, the principle that the
Minister, as opposed to ICASA, should have control over the radio frequency
spectrum is further reinforced in this paragraph. The SNO reiterates its view that only ICASA
should be vested with management and control of the radio frequency spectrum.
thanks the Department of Science and Technology for the opportunity to make
this written submission and warns that the principles contained in the draft
Act should be carefully considered before being implemented. It would not advance the country’s
telecommunications competitiveness by giving the Minister of Science and
Technology concurrent and at times, superseding powers over ICASA in relation
to the control and management of the radio frequency spectrum.
would welcome the opportunity to make oral representations in relation to the