ICASA orders MTN to slash USD0.25 interconnect fee

24 Mar 2015

South African telecoms regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), has ordered telco MTN to immediately cease collection of an USD0.25 per minute interconnect rate for internationally-originating voice traffic and to comply with the charging regime contained in the Call Termination Regulations (Government Gazette No. 38,042 of 30 September 2014).

On 22 October 2014 MTN issued a statement highlighting that ‘all international originated voice traffic destined for the MTN network will be charged at USD0.25 per minute as termination rate as of 1 November 2014. Internationally originated voice calls transiting on MTN’s network to other South Africa networks will be charged at USD0.25 per minute as of 1 November 2014.’ ICASA subsequently received a complaint from members of the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) and further queries from other licensees requiring regulatory clarity on the matter. Following an investigation, ICASA pointed out that the current call termination regulations do not make a distinction between termination services for voice calls originating within and outside of the borders of South Africa. Thus, the authority claimed that ‘by charging a different rate or termination between licensed operators in the manner that it has, MTN is in breach of the non-discrimination principles as per section 37 (6) of the Electronic Communications Act’.

For its part, MTN said that its international termination rate (ITR) was an attempt to bring into equilibrium the significant outflows of money from South Africa. Graham de Vries, chief corporate service officer at MTN South Africa, was cited by MyBroadband as saying: ‘ICASA’s decision effectively now does not permit us to do this … This means that the ITRs that international carriers are charging severely tilts pricing in favour of international carriers.’ ‘MTN is studying the decision taken by ICASA and will be engaging with ICASA on this matter in due course’, the executive added.