Vodacom has instituted legal proceedings against bulk SMS provider Telfree, claiming R54m it says it is owed for carrying millions of text messages across its network.
Rival MTN is already involved in a messy legal battle with Telfree. It wants the courts to find that it doesn’t have to carry Telfree SMSes.
MTN has also entered into arbitration proceedings with the company. Vincent Maleka SC has been appointed to oversee the case.
MTN is believed to be seeking at least R20m from Telfree.
Vodacom spokesman Richard Boorman tells TechCentral that the operator filed papers at the high court in Pretoria against Telfree on 8 August.
“I can confirm that we have instituted court proceedings to recover an amount of R54m related to Telfree not paying for the conveyance of SMSes on Vodacom’s network,” Boorman says.
MTN, meanwhile, says it is preparing to ask the high court to determine that there is “no legal obligation” on MTN to carry Telfree’s bulk SMS traffic across its network.
MTN will put the matter back on the roll at the high court in Pretoria soon, says GM for commercial legal services Fusi Mokoena.
In March, Telfree won an interim high court order against MTN. This came after the mobile operator blocked Telfree from carrying SMS traffic across its network in defiance of an earlier court order.
The order required MTN, which was also instructed to pay costs, to stop blocking Telfree from accessing its SMS system.
ITWeb reported at the time that Karel Pienaar, MTN South Africa’s MD at the time, had been ordered by the court to explain why he should not be found guilty of contempt of court.
The website said that MTN had previously threatened to block Telfree from sending SMSes across its network unless it registered as a wireless application service provider (Wasp).
It quoted Betschel as saying that Telfree did not need to do this as it was registered as a telecommunications company.
In late 2011, both MTN and Vodacom had told Telfree that it had to register as a Wasp as it, along with Neotel, had been “circumventing the preferred channels to send out application-to-person messages on behalf of third parties”, ITWeb said.
According to its website, the Telfree Group is a privately owned network of companies headquartered in Switzerland but focused on emerging markets. It says South Africa is its largest operation. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media