The first reportback on progress regarding mobile termination rates was expected in October, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) said on Friday.
The mobile termination rate — or interconnect fee — is the fee that one network charges another for terminating or completing calls on its network.
Earlier in the week, Icasa met with representatives of Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Neotel, Telkom and the Internet Services Providers’ Association. “At this meeting, it was agreed that industry would review its position on termination rates,” Icasa said.
It met again with the cellphone companies on Friday. “It was agreed that the focus for any negotiations would be the mobile termination rate,” Icasa said.
Trade union Solidarity said on Thursday that Icasa should drop the interconnect fee — which is fixed at R1,25 for cellphone-to-cellphone and landline-to-cellphone calls — to a maximum of 60 cents a minute.
“The original fee was fixed at 20c/minute in the early 1990s … it has since increased by 525%,” Solidarity said.
It said the fee was originally fixed on the assumption that there would be about 500 000 cellphone users in SA to cover the necessary costs for establishing the infrastructure. “However, this assumption is outdated,” Solidarity said.
According to a study by the Target Group Index, nearly 72,9% of South Africans, in other words about 35m people, had access to cellphones in 2007, the union said. “In addition, it is estimated that there are currently more than 50m Sim cards in use in SA, and this figure is still increasing.” — Sapa