Gabrielle Celli, former Telkom regulatory enforcer, has died

Gabrielle Celli, the former head of regulatory affairs at Telkom during the height of the company’s monopoly powers in the 1990s and early 2000s, has died.

Telkom confirmed on Saturday that Celli had passed away, without disclosing the cause of death or when he died.

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of former colleague Dr Gabrielle Celli,” the company said in a statement. “Dr Celli was the head of regulatory affairs at Telkom in the 1990s and contributed immensely to the development of policy and regulation during the liberalisation of the sector. We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”

“We are fortunate to have worked with him and gained from his wealth of knowledge. We have a lost a stalwart and the sector is poorer without him,” it added.

Celli is believed to have contributed significantly to the development of the Telecommunications Act (the predecessor to the Electronic Communications Act), under which Telkom was given a five-year state-enforced monopoly so that it could “rebalance” its tariffs (it subsidised local calls with high international charges, for example), roll out infrastructure in underserved areas, and prepare for deregulation and competition.

Foreign investors

It was while he was at Telkom that government sold 30% of the company to foreign investors, the US’s SBC Communications (now AT&T) and Telekom Malaysia.

It was also during this time that the firm aggressively enforced its monopoly rights, attempted to claim sole control over the Internet protocol in South Africa — much to the chagrin of the country’s emerging Internet service provider industry — and dramatically hiked local communications prices.  — © 2021 NewsCentral Media

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