South African regulator holds hearing on mobile termination rates

South African regulator holds hearing on mobile termination rates

South Africa’s Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) will hold public hearings to review call termination rules, as the country’s largest operators dispute over a rule change eight years ago.

The hearings are taking place today (February 7). The regulator published a discussion document in November 2021 and received seven submissions from operators Cell C, MTN, Switch Telecom, Telkom, Vodacom, the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) and telecommunications policy analyst Ewan Sutherland.

ICASA councillor Dr Charley Lewis noted since halving mobile termination rates in 2014, consumer prices for voices calls have “tumbled” with the affordability benefitting both businesses and consumers.

“We have gone through all submissions and have decided to engage further through public hearings. The intention is to interrogate the submissions so that we can have a clearer and deeper understanding of the views expressed by stakeholders. It is important to have a holistic view of all comments, and to engage with concrete and specific proposals on the key issues, so that we may arrive at informed, evidence-based decisions,” said Lewis.

Vodacom was vehemently against the cutting of mobile termination rates eight years ago with executives stating the rule benefits players who have not invested in their networks, and detrimental to those that have.

Mobile termination rates are also an issue in Kenya, where Telkom claims it is forced to pay half of its revenues to rival Safaricom, for its customers to end their calls on its network.

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