The FF Plus is concerned by regulations put forward by the Department of Communication and Digital Technology that gives networks the right to erect infrastructure on any private and public property.
In terms of the regulations, the owners of private property will, in most cases, be prohibited from collecting rent from networks that want to erect 5G infrastructure on their property.
The FF Plus asked Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams in the Select Committee on Public Enterprises and Communication in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) whether the regulations take the rights of owners, who already pay municipal rates and taxes, into consideration while they may, in most cases, not collect payment from the networks.
The Minister indicated that the regulations were compiled in consultation with the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).
According to the Department, payment may only be collected when infrastructure is intrusive. The network must also, in terms of the regulations, have access to the property. The Department could not indicate what they view as intrusive.
The public will be able to give their inputs during the public participation process. The FF Plus wants to encourage owners and organisations to participate and send their objections to the Department within the prescribed 30 days at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Broadband is becoming more and more important in South Africa where digital migration to the fourth industrial revolution will be critical.
The FF Plus welcomes any attempts to improve connectivity in South Africa, but not at the expense of private property rights.