Preparing South Africa for Information Society 'E-Services': The Significance of the VANS Sector

Melody, William H.
Currie, Willie
Kane, Sean
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LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg
New Value-Added Network Services (VANS) provide the foundation for the wide variety of applications (e-commerce, e-government, e-education, etc.,) that will make-up the e-economy in new information societies. Internet services are only a part of the VANS sector. The development of VANS is influenced primarily by three factors – technological improvements, government policies/ regulations, and the market structure of the VANS sector. South Africa has announced clear information society policies, but has not yet implemented them. Although the national fixed telecom network has experienced declining coverage in recent years, for those connected, the network is fully digitalised and makes increasing use of Internet Protocol. Technologically, South Africa is well prepared to be a leader in VANS development. However, its policy and regulation arena has been a site of continuous conflict and indecision, which has resulted in VANS development being restricted rather than promoted by government policy. Telkom’s aggressive activity in attempting to maximise its service exclusivities has restricted VANS development even further. Telkom’s exclusivity period under the government’s “managed liberalisation” policy ended 7 May 2002. If South Africa is to see its information society and e-economy policies implemented, it will have to establish, and implement through strong regulation, a commitment to promoting an innovative VANS sector. The forthcoming convergence legislation provides an opportunity to do so.
Melody, W., Currie, W., & Kane, S. (2003). Preparing South Africa for information society 'e-services': The significance of the VANS sector. The Southern African Journal of Information and Communication (SAJIC), 4, 26-40.