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ICASA caves under pressure from Vodacom, MTN

24 Mar 2014

Telecoms watchdog the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) will reportedly review its original decision to cut wholesale mobile termination rates (MTRs) following legal pressure from domestic cellcos Vodacom and MTN, Bloomberg reports. According to the article, ICASA has decided to reconsider the termination rates applicable for the years beginning 1 April 2015 and 1 April 2016. However, for its part, ICASA said: ‘The matter is going to court next week and all clarification will be made then.’

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in January 2014 ICASA announced higher asymmetry in MTRs, effective 1 March 2014. The new rules favoured 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’. Subsequently, on 17 February the regulator announced that the MTR cuts would be pushed back with two months, to 1 May, as the legal proceedings introduced by MTN South Africa were ‘complex’ and parties affected by the litigation were ‘afforded very little time to respond’. The date was amended yet again, to 1 April, after ICASA decided that ‘a delay of one month is sufficient to ensure that the affected parties have sufficient time to properly prepare their answering papers.’ At the end of February 2014, however, Vodacom jointed MTN in the legal proceedings against the watchdog, with a view to overturning the new MTRs.

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