MTN isn’t ‘trying to keep call costs high’

2014-02-16 14:00

Mobile giant MTN’s CEO insists the company isn’t trying to keep call costs high by taking the Independent Communications Authority of SA ­(Icasa) to court over interconnect rates.

The legal challenge in the South Gauteng High Court this week led to Icasa deciding to delay implementing new regulations until the beginning of May.

The regulations were supposed to come into effect at the beginning of next month and relate to the call termination rates that mobile operators levy against each other during network-to-network calls.

Icasa says the regulations will ­increase competition and bring new prices in the cellphone sector.

But MTN is having none of it and its legal papers suggest that it will fight the regulations on a wide range of grounds, including that there was “procedural unfairness” in drawing them up.

In a founding affidavit lodged with the high court, MTN SA CEO Zunaid Bulbulia says that Icasa did not provide the operator access to underlying cost data that it relied on to create the regulations.

“MTN is of the view that the regulations do not meet these requirements,” Bulbulia said.

Communications Minister Yunus Carrim has backed Icasa’s regulations and urged operators to accept these.

“Court action, if at all, should only be a last resort,” Carrim said. “We cannot interfere in Icasa’s decisions.”

The matter was set to be heard on February 21, but City Press has been told by an Icasa source that both legal teams will agree to a postponement.

Icasa is preparing new temporary regulations to prolong the existing ­mobile termination rates until the court case is resolved.

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