A hearing by the Competition Tribunal into alleged abuse of dominance by Telkom has been postponed to October.
The case was supposed to be heard in May. However, the commission wants to amend the charges it presents to the tribunal and has asked for more time.
“All the parties need to work out new dates to accommodate this application and the legal procedures,” says the tribunal.
The case was brought to the Competition Commission in 2004 by value-added network service (Vans) providers, which lodged a complaint against the fixed-line giant for abusing it dominance in the telecommunications market.
The Vans accused Telkom of maintaining its hold on the market by refusing to supply them with essential telecoms facilities.
Telkom has contested the complaint at every turn, and even attempted to challenge the jurisdiction of the commission in court. The case led to a landmark court hearing granting the commission jurisdiction over the case and eventually leading to its referral to the tribunal.
Late last year, the commission tried to amend its case with the tribunal, wanting to add a charge of margin squeezing.
However, the tribunal declined the amendment, saying the commission had not provided enough supporting evidence to have the charge included. At the time, the tribunal also left the door open for the commission to amend the case as long as the supporting evidence was provided.
Though the commission has confirmed it plans to amend the case, it will not say what amendments it plans to make. The charge of margin squeezing is likely to be added.
This is one of two competition cases Telkom is facing. Another was lodged in 2009 by Internet service providers and was referred to the tribunal last year. A date for hearings in the second case has not yet been set.
The commission has recommended the maximum fines against Telkom for both cases, together amounting to about R7bn. — Candice Jones, TechCentral