Icasa announces new call rate regulations

Johannesburg - New call termination rates favouring smaller cellular operators were announced by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) on Monday.

"The authority has maintained asymmetry for smaller operators and new entrants to facilitate competition in a market that has been determined to be uncompetitive," committee chairperson Nomvuyiso Batyi said in a statement.

Termination rates are the rates operators pay one another for calls to other networks.

Batyi said the asymmetrical rates for cellular operators already in the market were limited to the current regulatory period, which would expire in 2017.

The new wholesale voice call termination rates were 20 cents for October 1 2014 to September 30 2015, 16 cents for the following year and 13 cents for the final year.

Smaller operators, such as Cell C and Telkom Mobile, could charge asymmetrical rates of 31 cents for October 1 2014 to February 28 2015, 24 cents for the following year and 19 cents for the final year ending February 28 2017.

Batyi said the amount which the rates operators charged their consumers, in light of the new regulations, was dependent on the operators.

"While we believe that this is a significant step towards making voice services more accessible to all South Africans, we must caution consumers that retail rates do not in all instances come down by the drop in the termination rate."

The new regulations come after MTN and Vodacom took Icasa to court to stop it from implementing a regulation on mobile termination rates.

In April the court gave Icasa six months to amend its regulations.

On September 6 Icasa released draft call termination regulations for public comment.

Seven written submissions were received, some aspects of which were accompanied by applications for confidentiality, Batyi said.

"All submissions were considered and where relevant and applicable, the submissions were incorporated.

"The full reasons for all decisions taken throughout this process will be released in due course."

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