MTN may have just kick-started a new price war in South Africa’s mobile industry. The telecommunications operator has cut prepaid rates to 79c/minute to all networks, although only on a promotional basis for the next three months, until 9 July.
The move comes just two weeks after a high court judge ordered that mobile operators cut termination rates — the fees they charge each other to carry calls between their networks — in half for a period of six months.
The high court found that communications regulator Icasa’s rules governing mobile termination rates — which had been challenged by Vodacom and MTN — were unlawful, but ruled that they be implemented anyway while new ones were being drawn up.
From 1 March, termination rates fell by 50%, to 20c/minute, except for calls from MTN and Vodacom to smaller operators, which remained unchanged at 44c/minute. This “asymmetry” is meant to help smaller players compete more effectively in the hopes that it will lead to lower retail call prices.
“Our new 79c flat promotional rate is designed to stimulate the industry to provide even more affordable services to consumers, understanding their need for connectivity,” MTN South Africa chief marketing officer Brian Gouldie said in a media statement.
He said MTN intends making the promotional rate permanent.
The new tariff uses per-second billing.
All existing customers on MTN Pay Per Second will automatically get the new rate. New customers will default to the new rate, while MTN customers not on MTN Pay Per Second have to dial *141*4*4# to migrate.
MTN Zone customers can access the rate through recently introduced MTN Pay As You Go value bundles by dialling *141* to purchase a bundle. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media