William Stucke

William Stucke is an old hand in the ICT space.  He programmed his first computer in 1972, got his honours degree in Engineering in London in 1983, and suddenly found himself in telecommunications. He moved to RSA in 1984, built the first fibre optic Ethernet network in an underground mine in 1986, and automated two underground diamond mines, as well as some surface works.

In 1996 he decided to try out the newly arrived Internet and started an ISP with a couple of partners, as well as a few funders. They achieved a round dozen “firsts” in the ISP field in RSA, including operating the first Harvest and Squid proxy caches in the country, and graphing traffic (and other stuff) with MRTG.

He soon became aware of the very non-level playing field and became a campaigner for telecommunications liberalisation in RSA and in Africa generally. This led to him being invited to Accra by the ATU to speak on “What it means to be a Independent Regulator” in 2001. In the same year, he co-founded AfrISPA and was the Chair until 2010.

The next logical step was to become an ICASA Councillor, and fight the good fight from inside. He spent 5 years doing his “national service” at ICASA and left in late 2014, having achieved much less than he had hoped, but more than was expected.

Currently, he is an independent ICT consultant and an expert in spectrum matters. His brief CV can be found here.


As the “A Team” used to say: “I love it when a plan comes together”.

That seems to be a fair description of some of the stuff I’m up to at the moment, and how it all seems to tie together. Firstly, I was asked a few months ago to look into the FTTH going into Lonehill. I was asked by a good friend, and I wasn’t busy at the time, so I did it as a freebie. It turned out that MTN was negotiating with Lonehill to lay the fibre. I asked a bunch of questions, mostly relating to open access and facilities leasing by others, and got some answers. I never did get the documents I was promised to review, though. So, Lonehill went ahead with, I hope, a slightly less one-sided view of the relationship. Ironically, Joburg Water is also digging up the same pavements at the same time as MTN. I wonder if they are coordinating their trenching efforts in Lonehill?

Next, I live in Chartwell AH, a pretty rural area, North of Dainfern. In fact, apart from a farm, I occupy the northern-most property in this part of Joburg Metro. I also happen to be in a White Space. As in TVWS. Except it applies to telecoms. Nobody at all seems to have decent coverage of my property. My neighbours next door, no problem. Just me. Is there a conspiracy? Or should I have checked such things before buying the place?

Anyway, Telkom ensured that I would stop whining about my broken ‘phone lines by cutting down the poles, way back in 2009.  My only connectivity is a dubious iBurst connection from the top of a 9 m high mast. The CNE resident’s association have been trying to fix this for a while. Various Wi-Fi solutions were proposed, then some very dubious FTTH proposals eventually morphed into – guess who – MTN building FTTH in Chartwell North. That’s actually pretty amazing, as this is an area of agricultural holdings of typically 3 hectares, not the usual 0.1 hectares in the typical “leafy suburb”. And Lo! and Behold! it’s the same MTN chappie as I met in Lonehill …

This time I have all the documents, and they seem to be taking my comments quite seriously. Unfortunately, they have failed to read the whole of s22 of the ECA, but we’ll get over that. Specifically, they are trying to tie CNE down to not allowing anyone else into Chartwell. That’s simply ultra vires. CNE cannot make that undertaking. I need to finish my responses by tomorrow and explain this in words of one syllable.

Meantime, back at the ranch, I’m doing some work for the DTPS, via Analysys Mason, producing the draft Rapid Deployment Policy. This should be published within a few days, I hope, for public comment. I’ll take a break from that until around November, when the final version needs to be produced. Guess what this talks about – open access and facilities leasing, amongst others. In fact, it’s all about making sure that we avoid the cosy “exclusive” arrangements some have tried to make.

So, these three threads have come together rather well.

What else is going on? Well, quite a bit, actually.