MTN and Vodacom probed for price fixing - report

2009-10-19 08:09

The Competition Commission has subpoenaed key people at cellphone

providers MTN and Vodacom for suspected price-fixing, the Business Report said today.

Commissioner Shaun Ramburuth would not say how many people had been

subpoenaed, saying only that the “process of interviewing them is under

way“.

“I don’t want to prejudge the case,” he told the newspaper.

The allegations of price collusion relate to interconnection fees,

which the operators raised by 500 percent to R1.25 in 2001.

This was the same year that newcomer Cell C entered the

market.

Ramburuth said it had been difficult to find evidence of “explicit

collusion“.

“Vodacom and MTN set the rate between themselves and in that

agreement have a non-discrimination clause, which says that everyone will be

charged the same.

“In circumstances like that [the difficulty is to establish]

explicit collusion. The situation somehow provided a defence for the cellphone

companies, who claim that they did not collude and that the regulations required

them to do that,” said Ramburuth.

Recently, the government has intervened to try and get high

interconnection rates lowered and the Independent Communications Authority of SA

is meeting the operators this week.


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