South African broadband users have received another blow with the news that at least two proposed undersea cables bringing cheaper connectiivty could be scuppered.
Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, Minister of Communications, yesterday announced that only undersea cables that are majority owned by local companies would be allowed to land in South Africa, according to a report in Business Day.
The announcement, made at the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference in Mauritius, could be the death knell for the proposed Eassy and Seacom cables.
Seacom actually has a ship in harbour, ready to start laying cables which could provide broadband connectivity by 2009. The company has also signed an agreement for Neotel to land the cable in South Africa and provide backhaul to the interior.
Eassy, meanwhile, is 27% owned by Telkom, Neotel and MTN.
The Department of Communications has said it will release guidelines on cable ownership, but there is no clarity on when these will be finalised.
Meanwhile, the Department is busy planning its own cables in co-operation with Nepad but these are still on the drawing board.