The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), facing a legal challenge brought on an urgent basis at the high court by MTN, has decided to delay implementation of new wholesale call termination regulations to 1 May 2014.
The regulations, which govern the fees operators can charge each other to carry calls between their networks, had been set to take effect on 1 March, when the rate was set to be cut from 40c/minute to 20c/minute.
Icasa’s move is a setback to smaller operators, which had not only been looking forward to the 1 March reduction in the rates, but also to the introduction of an aggressive “asymmetry” regime that disfavours the industry’s two biggest players, MTN and Vodacom.
The authority now intends publishing amendment regulations to delay the introduction of the new regulations by two months and to keep existing regulations in force until then.
It says the application brought by MTN is “complex” and parties affected by the litigation are “afforded very little time to respond, in that answering affidavits are required to be filed by 18 February and the urgent application was enrolled for hearing on 25 February”.
“Icasa has decided that it is in the public interest for the urgent application to be heard and decided on a less urgent basis,” it says in a statement.
“The high court’s decision will have wide-ranging effects on the parties and the public at large, including subscribers for telecommunications services. As such, it is important that the high court is fully informed of all the relevant issues before making its decision, and it is therefore necessary that the affected parties have sufficient time to properly prepare their answering papers, particularly given the complexity of the matter.” — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media