Cell C formally threatens ICASA with legal action

Cell C has informed the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) it may take legal action if the regulator does not implement an urgent market review examining the effect of mobile call termination rates (MTRs) on the cost of communication in South Africa.

The network operator also wants the regulator to investigate other potential ways to boost competition in the telecoms sector.

“Cell C… formally notified the regulator this week that we reserve the right to take legal action,” Alan Knott-Craig Sr, chief executive officer (CEO) of Cell C, told HumanIPO.

Knott-Craig says Cell C has been in continuous communication with ICASA since mid-2012, and most recently in January of this year called upon the regulator to instigate an investigation regarding MTRs and their contribution to the high cost of mobile communications.

“Cell C has specifically asked the regulator to implement an urgent market review,” Knott-Craig said. “We have also presented to the regulator on several occasions explaining the need for a greater asymmetry for smaller players and new entrants in order to truly compete, and the removal of on-net and off-net differences in rates.”

The telecom believes competition in the sector is currently insufficient, and that high MTRs and the lack of asymmetry allows dominant rival operators to conduct predatory pricing and prevent small operators and new entrants from gaining traction in the market.

As such, Cell C wants the regulator to consider ways of opening up the market and increasing competition.

“Cell C has also asked the regulator to investigate other levers to support competition including essential facilities regulation, MNP, and reference interconnection offers,” Knott-Craig confirmed.

ICASA has previously told HumanIPO it is not against the concept of cutting MTRs to as low as 15 to 20 cents, and promised to conduct a market review in line with Cell C’s request.

However, Cell C appears to be dissatisfied with the pace of ICASA’s fulfilment of this undertaking.

Posted in: Telecoms

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