ICASA postpones MTR cuts until 1 May

17 Feb 2014

Telecoms regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has decided to delay the implementation of new wholesale mobile termination rates (MTRs) until 1 May 2014, TechCentral reports. According to the article, the authority plans to retain the country’s current MTRs for two extra months, as the legal proceedings introduced by MTN South Africa are ‘complex’ and parties affected by the litigation are ‘afforded very little time to respond.’ Further, the regulator said in a statement: ‘The high court’s decision will have wide-ranging effects on the parties and the public at large, including subscribers for telecommunications services. As such, it is important that the high court is fully informed of all the relevant issues before making its decision, and it is therefore necessary that the affected parties have sufficient time to properly prepare their answering papers, particularly given the complexity of the matter.’

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in January 2014 ICASA announced higher asymmetry in MTRs, effective 1 March 2014. The new rules favour smaller network operators Cell C and Telkom Mobile. However, in February ICASA’s representative Nomvuyiso Batyi confirmed that MTN South Africa had sent a letter to the watchdog demanding the ‘immediate removal of recently published regulations’. Batyi said: ‘We expect Vodacom will join the action by MTN, so we are prepared for it. We have [hired] a very senior [legal] counsel … We did instruct [our legal team] to respond … and say we are not removing anything. We will see them in court if they decide to take us on.’