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COVID-19: Electronic Communications, Postal And Broadcasting Directions Issued

March 27, 2020

The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services has published Notice 417 in Government Gazette 43164.

The Notice contains Directions issued under the amended Disaster Management Act Regulations relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The purpose of these Directions is to facilitate the availability and use of digital technologies to combat the spread of the virus, through:

  • ensuring the smooth operations of the electronic communications industry (telecommunications infrastructure and services) as essential services during the disaster period;
  • imposing social compact obligations on individual and class broadcasting service licensees to broadcast public service announcements related to the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 and its impact; 
  • enabling electronic communications services licensees and other service providers to rapidly deploy networks and facilities as contemplated in the Electronic Communications Act, thus increasing the demand and usage of electronic communications services;
  • removing obstacles associated with the rapid deployment of electronic communications services; and
  • establishing a coordinating mechanism, as may be required, through which licensed and non-licensed industry service providers can facilitate the provisioning of the services outlines by these Directions.

Interventions include that all internet sites operating within .zaDNA top level domain name must have a landing page with a visible link to www.sacoronavirus.co.za

All Electronic Communications Service Licensees and Electronic Communications Network Service Licensees with access to the radio frequency spectrum are required to make available their platforms for the streaming of public announcements to their customers or subscribers.

ICASA is required to keep a register of all type approvals granted during the state of national disaster.

Electronic Communications Service Licensees must provide zero-rated access to local educational content websites while audio visual services especially the broadcasting services licensees must increase their educational programmes to support awareness of COVID-19.

The Directions came into effect on the date of publication thereof.