By segun Oniyide
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) will today attend court to face legal claims by dominant operators MTN and Vodacom, challenging the new mobile termination rates (MTRs) to become effective as of April 1.
ICASA published new MTR regulations in January, providing for more than 50 per cent cuts to MTRs as well as asymmetric pricing to the detriment of the larger operators.
MTN lodged a legal challenge immediately, with Vodacom following suit with its own claim; both arguing the regulator did not follow due processes required by statute in deciding on the new regulations.
The operators want the implementation of the new regulations scheduled for April 1 to be delayed, as well as legal consideration of the method followed by ICASA in deciding on the new regulations.
Chief executive officer (CEO) of MTN Zunaid Bulbulia said the new regulations mainly the provisions regarding asymmetry – are “unsustainable” and “grossly unfair”, adding that infrastructure development in the country will be negatively impacted under the new pricing.
“MTN shares the regulator’s vision of lowering the cost of telecommunications, but we believe that this not be motivated by blind support of narrow sectional interests of one player at the expense of the growth and the development of the entire industry,” Bulbulia said.
Vodacom echoed this sentiment, saying its customers will be “unfairly prejudiced” by the new regulations.
“Vodacom supports lower mobile termination rates. The issue at hand is not whether these rates come down; it’s about ensuring that the legislated fair and objective process is used to determine the final rates. ICASA has not followed this process and as a result our customers will be unfairly prejudiced,” said Vodacom at the time.
“We stand by our previous proposal to the regulator that an interim cut be implemented immediately. This will ensure that rates continue to come down and at the same time provide breathing room to follow the correct, legislated process to determine the final rates,” Vodacom said.