ICASA reveals final MTRs with ‘better asymmetry’

30 Sep 2014

South African telecoms regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), has revealed the final mobile termination rates (MTRs) for the period 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2017, TechCentral reports. The watchdog’s final decision will give smaller players ‘slightly better asymmetry’ than the one proposed in its draft regulation from early September. For mobile calls, the rate will remain set at ZAR0.20 per minute (USD0.02) until 30 September 2015, while fixed termination rates (FTRs) will drop to ZAR0.12 per minute for calls in the same number area, and ZAR0.15 for long-distance calls. From October 2015 onwards, MTRs will drop to ZAR0.16, while FTRs will decrease to ZAR0.11 for calls within the same area and ZAR0.12 for long-distance calls. October 2016 will see the MTR tariffs drop to ZAR0.13, while FTRs for all area codes will decrease to ZAR0.10.

The final legislation also offers better asymmetry for smaller players such as Cell C and Telkom Mobile – from 1 October 2014, the asymmetry MTR rate is set at ZAR0.31 per minute, before dropping to ZAR0.24 per minute (38%) in October 2015. A further reduction, to ZAR0.19, will occur in 2016. Previously, ICASA proposed to cut the asymmetry MTR rate to ZAR0.30 from 1 October 2014, ZAR0.22 per minute (March 2015), ZAR0.16 (2016) and ZAR0.10 (2017).

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this month ICASA reviewed its proposed MTRs for the period October 2014 to end-February 2018, following a Gauteng court ruling that the previous regulations were ‘unlawful and invalid’. Along with dramatically reducing the level of asymmetry for smaller players, the regulator also suggested a new way of determining whether an operator may qualify for asymmetry – a company must have less than 20% of the share of total terminated minutes in either the fixed or mobile market in order to be considered for symmetry. Shortly after, ICASA was accused by Call C of making ‘a dramatic U-turn’, with the cellco stating: ‘the massive proposed reduction in asymmetry completely eliminates any pro-competitive remedy… ICASA is now only proposing a marginal cost recovery, which is not, in terms of many international benchmarks and literature, the basis on which asymmetry is determined, and which will have the effect of entrenching the duopoly in the South African market today.’