The biggest regulatory milestones aimed at liberalising local telecoms have been the Electonic Communications Act 36 of 2005 and the Icasa Amendment Act of 2006, but South Africans won't reap the benefits of these for at least another year. 

According to BMI-TechKnowledge's latest report – The SA Telecoms Market: New Laws, New Rules – interim steps towards liberalisation have taken place in the absence of some key competition enablers such as allowing ISPs to self-provide, and to provide voice services (notably VoIP), but without enforcing interconnection and geographic number portability.
Mobile number portability has been implemented, the report adds, but with limited impact. A cost-based wholesale facilities leasing regime is also not yet fully in place for either voice or data services.
"However, many of the outstanding liberalisation objectives which are embodied in the EC Act are being addressed and will take a year or more to be implemented," says Carolyn Falconer, senior telecoms analyst at BMI-T. "For instance, carrier pre-selection is theoretically available to Neotel; open access to international submarine cables is another aspect for future liberalisation; and local loop unbundling is a long-term possibility."
The Icasa Act amendments and the EC Act redefine and expand the powers of Icasa to control the communications market. Icasa's key functions include regulating players in the communications sector, issuing operating licences to service providers, managing the frequency spectrum in South Africa and protecting consumers against unfair business practices.
Most significantly, Icasa has now been given power to dictate – amongst other things – price controls, terms and conditions of access, interconnection, and facilities leasing. The Act allows the regulator, after a rigorous economic analysis, to impose pro-competitive conditions on the market if an operator is deemed to have significant market power (SMP). The definition of SMP is a major area of conflict at present, particularly on mobile operator's termination rates, and is currently under review.
"Both Acts give Icasa more muscle and should theoretically prevent operators from employing legal challenges to its rulings as a delaying tactic," says Falconer. "However, how this plays out in practice remains to be seen."
The report states that the changes brought about by the EC Act are expected to boost revenue in the total telecommunications market from R103-billion today, to around R140-billion in 2011.
The mobile services market, with a CAGR of 9%, is forecast to grow faster than the fixed-line and fixed-wireless market which has a CAGR of 5%.
In the mobile services market, voice remains the  bread and butter of the mobile market, but mobile data services will be the industry’s growth powerhouse over the forecast period with a CAGR of 29%. This growth will be driven by multimedia content and data access for PCs and laptops.
Voice ARPU is likely to be affected by reduced interconnection rates, VoIP and Instant Messaging.
The report concludes that the level of competition in the telecoms market has picked up considerably with the promulgation of the EC Act as it has opened the market up to more local and international second-tier competitors, as well as potentially more infrastructure-based competition, while the broadcasting sector is being liberalised with additional competition expected in the pay TV arena.