SA’s three mobile operators, MTN, Vodacom and Cell C, will cut interconnection rates at the same time — by midnight on 1 March 2010.
Communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda caused confusion in the telecommunications industry when he announced in parliament last week that Vodacom and Cell C would cut interconnection rates on 1 February 2010, with MTN following a month later, on 1 March.
Mobile interconnection rates are the fees the cellphone operators charge one another and other network operators to carry calls on their networks. They are set at a high R1,25/minute during peak times but Nyanda announced last week that the rate would drop to 89c in the first quarter of next year after an agreement had been reached.
Explaining why Nyanda provided a later implementation date for MTN in his speech, Vodacom Group CEO Pieter Uys, pictured, says it “must have been a misunderstanding”.
“We’ll all have to implement on the same date as interconnection rates are nondiscriminatory,” Uys says. “Once all systems of all affected telecoms operators have been changed, the new rate will become effective.”
Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt and MTN SA CEO Karel Pienaar have confirmed that the new rates will take effect by midnight on 1 March and that the cuts will take place simultaneously.
Several industry executives had expressed surprise that Nyanda had proposed different dates as unbalanced interconnection rates would have opened a 30-day window for “massive” arbitration.
Uys says the next step in the process is for the industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), to approve the new interconnection rate and the proposed date of implementation. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral