The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) wants more time to deal with the issue of mobile interconnection fees.
Just days after saying it would conclude the process of bringing down the fees — which the mobile operators charge others to carry calls on their networks — by 31 March 2010, the authority now says it needs an extra three months to finish its work.
Icasa acting chairman Robert Nkuna says this is so that it can give its legal advisors time to review draft regulations to ensure the operators don’t simply take the authority to court and have the regulations overturned.
The authority has to follow complex rules in terms of chapter 10 of the Electronic Communications Act before it can intervene in the market.
“We indicated previously that we’d finish this by March [but]because of the litigious nature of this industry, we realised … the authority would need to get [comprehensive]legal advice,” Nkuna says. “That’s why we extended it to June.”
The authority says it will have draft regulations finalised by the end of March with a view to completing the process by the end of June next year.
Talks aimed at bringing about a voluntarily reduction in interconnection fees broke down last Friday after the operators couldn’t reach agreement.
Nkuna says Vodacom and MTN had agreed to a reduction of 19% in the blended interconnection rate (average peak and off-peak rate) but the two operators had refused to provide a specific breakdown of how much they believed peak and off-peak rates should fall. This contributed to the collapse in the talk, Nkuna says.
He says Icasa was not party to the talks that took place on Tuesday at the department of communications between department officials and executives from MTN, Vodacom and Cell C. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral