South Africa’s mobile telecommunications operators must cooperate with Icasa in providing the information the communications regulator needs to draw up new regulations governing call termination rates.
That’s the word from communications minister Yunus Carrim, who met with the Icasa council on Wednesday to discuss progress on the new regulations and other issues, including regulatory measures needed to implement the country’s broadband policy.
“The main item discussed was Icasa’s progress on the cost-study analysis on mobile termination rates since the court judgment last month and the plan to meet the six-month deadline of 30 September 2014,” the department of communications said in a statement.
“We received a report from Icasa on progress and we are reasonably satisfied,” Carrim said in the statement. “They requested more resources from us and we agreed in principle to give them appropriate support.”
Last month, the high court in Johannesburg found that Icasa’s previous regulations on termination rates — the fees operators charge each other to carry calls between their networks — were unlawful and invalid. This followed a challenge from Vodacom and MTN. But the court suspended its judgment for six months — effectively implementing cuts to the rates — while Icasa draws up new regulations that taken into account operators’ real cost to terminate a call.
“We remain fully supportive of Icasa’s work on lowering the cost to communicate, without, of course, interfering in its independence,” said Carrim. “In fact, a major issue raised in the public hearings on the ICT green paper throughout the country has been the high cost to communicate. And, of course, the parliamentary committee is unanimous in its support for the Icasa regulations.
“Clearly, the costs have to come down,” Carrim added. “It’s not just in the interests of the poor and disadvantaged but the economy as a whole. We urge the mobile operators to co-operate with Icasa in providing the necessary information and in other ways to ensure that this process is finalised expeditiously.” — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media