De Lille slams cellphone operators, calls them ‘unpatriotic’

2010-02-02 15:06

INDEPENDANT Democrats president Patricia de Lille has accused

mobile phone operators MTN, Vodacom and Cell C of being “arrogant and

unreliable” after they offered a “pathetic” reduction in their off-peak time

rates.


De Lille’s comments came after the Independent Communications

Authority of SA (Icasa) turned down a proposed voluntary reduction in

interconnection rates received from the three operators on January 25.


“Their proposed reduction of peak-time rates from R1.25 to 89 cents

a minute in March 2010, 85 cents a minute in October 2011 and 80 cents a minute

in October 2012 are as pathetic as they are insulting to Parliament and the

people of South Africa,” De Lille said.


The offer received by Icasa from MTN, Vodacom and Cell C proposed

that the current 77 cents rate for the off-peak interconnection rate remain the

same until 2013.


The operators made the implementation of their proposal subject to

the condition that Icasa undertook to not review mobile termination rates until

March 1, 2013.


“When their CEOs appeared before our communication portfolio

committee in Parliament there was no talk of conditions,” De Lille said.


“They have got no right to set conditions for the regulator. The ID

supports Icasa’s rejection of the operators’ pathetic glide path and their

conditions.”


De Lille’s campaign to bring down telecommunications costs began in

July last year, when she lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission

calling on it to investigate, “whether the operators, particularly the dominant

players, are acting anti-competitively or are guilty of any prohibited

practices”.


“I am getting sick and tired of these mobile phone operators

playing games at the expense of ordinary South Africans and especially the

poor,’’ De Lille said.


“The fact that MTN has agreed to sizeable reductions in the rates

in the Nigerian market but cannot do the same here shows just how unpatriotic

and opportunistic these operators can be.


“I think the time has arrived for us to seriously start talking

about an immediate reduction of the interconnection rate to 60 cents a minute

during off-peak and peak-times.”

 

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