Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cellphone bills in South Africa are due to drop early next year

The high rate of interconnection has been hot on the agenda over the last few weeks, with local alternative telecommunications companies and parliamentarians calling on the regulator or the competition authorities to put a clamp on the costs.

Today's announcement will be a boon for the smaller industry players that have much riding on ICASA's interconnect decisions. Some have argued that the current rates have made it impossible to compete effectively in a big business-dominated industry.

The regulator previously balked at the idea of regulating what is effectively a commercial agreement between operators. However, following mounting pressure from industry and a personal visit by Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille, the move is not surprising.

In July, De Lille laid a complaint with the Competition Commission over the high cost of mobile phone calls and asked the commission to investigate if the dominant players are acting anti-competitively or are guilty of prohibitive practices.

SHOOT: Good news, at last. The question is, by how much will these prohibitive costs be cut?
clipped from www.itweb.co.za

Johannesburg, 8 September 2009

] -
The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) says mobile operators have agreed to drop the termination rates by the beginning of February 2010.
According to a report released by the authority this afternoon, following an urgent meeting between it, the operators, and the Internet Service Providers Association this morning, operators have agreed to begin a process that will see lower interconnect rates.
“After deliberations, the meeting resolved to embark on the industry-led process to reduce termination rates, with ICASA exercising an oversight responsibility,” the report explains.
It is still unclear by how much the rate of interconnection will be cut, and the regulator did not indicate whether it had specifically quantified the rate drop.
Operators have agreed to have the new contract agreements in place by the end of December, with full implementation of the new rates as soon as February next year.
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