29 January 2014
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) announced on Wednesday that it would halve mobile termination rates – the fee operators charge each other to carry calls between their networks – from March this year.
The decision follows “months of consultations” between Icasa and the telecommunications industry, the regulator said.
Nomvuyiso Batyi, a councillor at Icasa, said at a press conference yesterday that the termination rates would be put on a downhill path until they reached an all-time low rate of 10c by 2016.
Icasa said the decision was taken in a move to stimulate economic growth. “As we get down to the business of regulating this sector, our beacon is to attract local and foreign investors, and position this industry as a sector of choice,” Batyi said.
As of March 1, mobile termination rates will fall from 40c to 20c. It will drop to 15c in March 2015, before being reduced to 10c in 2016.
“We regulate to create competition and choice for the consumer and end-users so that they can get value for money and quality of service. We regulate so that our young people can get opportunities not just to gain employment, but to generate employment and establish enterprises that would stimulate economic growth and opportunities,” Batyi said.
During his budget vote last year, Communications Minister Yunus Carrim said that while the government could not interfere in the telecommunications market itself, it would be to the benefit of the consumer and the economy to bring down the cost of communications.
Icasa said it had been considering other ways to bring down the high cost of cellphone calls and data fees, but would need to get a directive from Cabinet.
The previous reduction saw mobile rates falling from 73c to 40c over a three-year period.
With this announcement set to favour the pocket of the consumer, Batyi commended the Icasa council for taking decisions that fulfil the agency’s legislative mandate, and said regulation of the industry should be done in the interest of the public.
“As an authority, we also regulate to ensure that the majority of our people have access to affordable electronic and ICT services wherever they are – in Orange Farm and Diepsloot, Tsolo and Pongola, Lephalale and Springbok, Thaba Nchu, Giyani or Makhado,” she said.