The Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (ISPA) this month celebrates 25 years of being a force for positive change in South Africa’s ICT (Information and Communications Technology) sector.
ISPA has spent a quarter century shaping and influencing ICT policy for the better; investing in people and communities; and leveling the telecoms playing field to the advantage of its nearly 200 members, consumers and the economy.
Much of ISPA’s early activities were focused on preventing Telkom from using its monopoly position to unfairly compete against the country’s fledgling Internet access providers. ISPA’s steadfast efforts eventually resulted in Competition Commission rulings that resulted in the split of Telkom’s wholesale and retail activities.
Today, Openserve provides services equally to Telkom’s retail division and to other ISP (Internet Service Providers). It is fitting then that ISPA is now able to welcome Openserve as its newest member. Openserve joins Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Seacom as ISPA’s three Backbone members who quite literally operate the backbones of the nation’s Internet infrastructure.
According to ISPA founding office bearer, Ant Brooks: “When representatives from a handful of ISPs met in an office in Rosebank on 06 June 1996 and agreed to form a new industry body, they agreed on an initial twin focus on ensuring fair competition and improving local peering.”
A quarter century later, fair competition and local peering remain ISPA’s twin pillars. Fibre network operators are encouraged to adopt fair competitive practices while ISPA’s INX-ZA division – which has provided 25 years of uninterrupted JINX (Johannesburg Internet Exchange) service – now operates exchanges across nine sites in three SA cities.
By supporting the operation of JINX, DINX (Durban Internet Exchange) and CINX (Cape Town Internet Exchange), ISPA has helped develop local infrastructure. Internet exchanges encourage local traffic to remain local, and provide a more responsive experience to Internet users.
ISPA has consistently lobbied for transparency towards consumers, open competition, respect for the privacy of Internet users, and a legislative framework that is consistent with the open standards and collaboration that underpins the global Internet. The Association has also championed a fair Internet industry and many of the competitive improvements in the sector over the past 25 years can be directly linked to ISPA’s efforts.
Since 2009, ISPA has been recognised as an Industry Representative Body. This recognition by the then Minister of Communications gives ISPA’s members special legal protections for third party traffic passing over their network.