Rain is prepared to discuss roaming arrangements with any operator, and the company’s agreement with Vodacom is non-exclusive and complies with South African regulations, its CEO, Willem Roos, said on Friday.
Roos was responding to allegations levelled against the company by Cell C chief strategy officer and acting chief financial officer Robert Pasley at a Competition Commission inquiry into the mobile data services market on Thursday.
Pasley told the commission that communications regulator Icasa had failed in its regulatory duty when it allowed Vodacom and Rain to enter into a national roaming agreement.
The decision to allow the transaction handed Vodacom a massive advantage over smaller players, which could distort the industry in the market leader’s favour, Pasley said.
The roaming agreement effectively gave Vodacom access to Rain’s spectrum, and by 2020, according to Cell C’s calculations, would give Vodacom a “technical value” of at least R11.5-billion in savings and benefits.
Vodacom and Rain (formerly Wireless Business Solutions) concluded the transaction two years ago.
Cell C complained to Icasa about the deal, but the regulator determined that no spectrum sharing was technically taking place between the parties and would therefore not prohibit the deal. Pasley said allowing Vodacom access to Rain’s spectrum constitutes “regulatory failure” that has given a new competitive advantage to Vodacom that will harm smaller network operators.
Cell C roaming
Pasley said Cell C had also sought a roaming deal with Rain, prior to signing a 4G/LTE roaming agreement with MTN earlier this year. “We were unable to obtain a reference roaming offer from Rain, or even an outline of the commercial terms that we would likely receive from them. This is despite the fact that Rain has asserted it is willing to negotiate non-discriminatory roaming agreements with other parties.”
Although Roos said on Friday that Rain does not want to respond in detail to Cell C’s assertions, he said all commercial agreements the company has entered into “comply fully with the applicable South African regulatory requirements”.
“Cell C, or any other operator, is welcome to engage Rain, in good faith, to discuss the possibility of roaming on our network,” Roos said. — © 2018 NewsCentral Media