Telecommunications companies have agreed in a meeting with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to come together to negotiate a new interconnection regime by the end of the year.
In a statement following the meeting, which was closed to the media — TechCentral was asked to leave the room — Icasa indicated that representatives of Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom, Neotel and the Internet Service Providers’ Association had agreed to “embark on an industry-led process to reduce termination rates, with Icasa exercising an oversight responsibility”.
Interconnection rates are the fees charged by operators to carry calls on each other’s networks. Mobile interconnection rates are regarded as too high, and political pressure is growing for them to be brought down as quickly as possible.
The meeting also agreed that the process of negotiating a new interconnection rate regime would take into accounts the requirements of competition law. The negotiations would be concluded by the end of December.
Icasa has proposed an implementation date of 1 February 2010 — presumably the date on which it would like to see interconnection rates begin to come down. The statement does not make it clear whether the operators agreed to the February date or whether there was any discussion on what the rates should be.
The authority said it will continue with the process of drawing up the regulations necessary for it to set the interconnection rate if it needs to. “This process will entail the publication of the necessary regulatory framework pursuant to regulations defining the relevant market; evaluating the effectiveness of competition; a declaration of licensees with significant market power; and the implementation of pro-competitive remedies.” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral