CNs and the proposed regulations for the Independent Communications Authority in South Africa

What does the proposed ICASA regulation: (INTENTION TO AMEND ANNEXURE B OF THE RADIO FREQUENCY SPECTRUM REGULATIONS, 2015 ) mean to the SA CN movement?

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Hi @ZuriFi, thanks for bringing this up.
It would be good to complement the post with a link to the proposal you are mentioning, so others can know what you are refering to.
Also tagging some that might know more about it: @carlos @sol @kathleen @thato
@michaelgraaf @steve

Here is the original Gazette: https://archive.opengazettes.org.za/archive/ZA/2019/government-gazette-ZA-vol-649-no-42590-dated-2019-07-23.pdf

Here is a page where anybody can subscribe email updates when certain keywords are found in the Government Gazettes: https://search.opengazettes.org.za/text/34401?dq=spectrum%20OR%20ghz%20OR%20mhz&page=1 (Just relevant to South Africa, but things like this is a good way to catch up to what is happening in your government and you could find someone who could do the same for your country.)

In a nutshell, our regulator proposed to change our legislation to limit output power that is allowed in point to point (backbone) connections from something that allows us to make connections for up to 30km with a medium sized dish antenna, to such a low level that we will struggle to make a connection over 5km, leaving equipment that costs 5x to 10x as much, or other technologies that cost up to 100x as much, as the only options.* (I haven’t done the math, this is off the top of my head.)

This is probably just an oversight by someone who is new on the job at the regulator - as we currently have legislation that is more progressive than the standard ITU recommendations, and the proposal will just see us return to “what almost everyone else is doing.”

But what works for most of Europe, is not always the best solution for us. Often times it is, and it has been mulled over by a lot of really smart people who have had done a lot of research on it, and who have have learned the heard way, and from history. But nobody is perfect and sometimes bad things slip through too. (Also read about the “Dunning Kruger effect”- experts tend to be more honest about their uncertainty, and might come across as not knowing much - while novices are often more confident because they only have to deal with a few concepts that seems to make sense to them - but might suffer from some big flaws that they do not yet understand. Don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” - Another saying you can search for. (Sorry this webpage won’t let me add links.)

The deadline for comments was yesterday. As often happens, most people who this affect still haven’t heard about this, and many only found out today. Things taking place like this is an indication of bad governance, or a lack of skills or education on the part of those put in these positions of power.

At least we have at least one industry body in South Africa that made a submission in time - but even the possibility of that happening has been under threat as the industry body has been talking about cancelling their retainer with the legal firm who noticed this and drafted the submission - also, they have been removing people from their mailing lists, without proper notification.

These issues are important, and each and every country needs more people who can understand the legal and technical terms, and make the proper representations. Often, the only voice heard in issues like this, is that of those who have a lot of money on the table - and those whose voices most need to be heard, are not even aware.

The best interests of civil society is seldom heard, or represented, as the people willing to stand up, and to put in the time and effort required, are few and far in between. How many of us are willing to financially support those who do? And then look at some of the leaders of trade unions - sometimes they get too much financial support and it changes them and their values.

We are lucky in South Africa that we have a strong history of standing up against oppressive legislation, by people who are willing to do it with just a slice of toast on the table for dinner. As a result, we’ve got some of the most inclusive, most progressive legislation in the world - but we don’t value it because our younger generation grew up with it, they take it for granted. They should compare notes with people from other countries and see how easy we have it. But what we have is only barely enough - and not every county is as lucky as us. To make matters worse, people still today think that what we have is bad and is trying to throw it out, in favor of much worse things.

The first thing to realize about government is that many of us can also get into government - government is “by us, for us” - but in my view, government should be there first and foremost to facilitate and listen to what we need and want and to help us find those who solve our problems the best - without causing more problems. “The world is like a waterbed. If you change something in one place, it pops up somewhere else.”

Governments do this by following processes that are usually quite fixed and very structured, and these processes often demand a lot of time and expertise - and they are legally allowed to ignore things that do not fall in that structure.

Governments that try to control too much, and do too many things itself, become vehicles of power that are targets for capture by the those with the means to capture it (Google “state capture”.)

A bad company will just lose customers and quickly run out of money. A bad government can have so much power that it can take decades to change it. It is better to let companies do things, and to let the government make very visible what is being done and what is still needed, and that everyone understands how it works, and why.

Governments that force people to do things that they don’t want, find themselves undermined. Very seldom can laws and military power control people for very long. “For every regulation there is an equal and opposite loophole.”

A lot of bad things have been done, “by the book” - and within the law - and managed to continue just because it was easy to hide - in plain sight. Oh, “the tender was published” - where? When? By the time people are caught out, the damage has been done and it is too late. Be very suspicious of anyone in governance that tries to keep secrets or cover things up.

Governance is hard - and thankless. There are good and bad people everywhere, and many of the bad people think they’re good. The bigger a company gets, the more it becomes like a government. Often it is easier to not touch an issue, or to just push it through without anyone noticing, sometimes there are huge bribes and big kickbacks involved… sometimes you can almost feel empathy for people in government who facilitate this, or who turn a blind eye - sometimes their lives might be at real risk - but people like that shouldn’t be there in the first place. But sometimes they’re the best we’ve got. People in government need thick skins. People are willing to do horrible things for what they believe to be their birthright, “revenge” or “justice”, their plan… or just a lot of money, and sometimes growth and change only comes through great suffering, or great love.

Even something innocuous might land you in a world of pain, because you don’t always know who you are up against and what they are willing to do, or why really - often it makes no sense - so do not make comments lightly, and think carefully about what you want to say, how you want to say it, and whom it might affect, and how they might interpret it. Sometimes you just need to have a honest, clear, heartfelt conversation with the right opponent… but sometimes it is not something rational, and the disconnect is too great.

Governance means all voices need to be heard, and accommodated, and helped to listen to each other. That requires time, and a lot of foresight, things that often stand in sharp contrast with modern cultural norms of instant gratification, and getting stuff “for free”. “Free” is a lie that is designed to trick you into not looking who is paying, and before long it will be you. Freedom is worth paying for. The difference is that “free” turns you into a dependent slave… while “freedom” gives you power.

Just because all these things can use very technical language and sound very difficult, doesn’t mean that it is - it’s not different from keeping the peace in a small community it’s just peoples reasons for fighting that are different. Everything can be explained in a way that anyone can understand - even if they don’t understand it right away, within a few weeks everything can be understood, and peoples opinions can change. You can look on the internet for “ELI5” - it means, explain it like I’m 5 years old. Things that seem like a good idea, sometimes turn out to be a very bad idea, because of something that nobody thought about. Or because people don’t understand history, or didn’t read all of history but only the parts that they cherry picked to justify their beliefs. No country has it all figured out, and our country borders protect us against bad experiments in governance elsewhere.

But we have a global communication system, and global trade and global money now. Governments are having a harder time than ever to understand how to best work with others, and how to protect us against exploitation, without holding us back.

Sorry, I wrote a lot again. What can I say, I think this is important - nobody explained things to me like this, directly - I had to read a lot of history, talk to a lot of people who have been through things, and gone through a lot of things myself, to figure this out - It took me a long time to learn. I hope that all of you will be able to learn quicker and find easier and better ways to deal with things - and teach me a few things before long.

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