There may, finally, be relief for businesses and individual consumers from costly cellphone bills after advocate Gilbert Marcus’s legal opinion that the industry regulator, Icasa, has the right to force down the fees.
Vodacom and MTN hiked the cost of switching a call from one network to another from 20c a minute to R1,25, a ridiculous rise of 525%. They did it just before Cell C launched, to deter customers from joining the new network.
As the vast majority of their calls would be to users on the established networks, the interconnection fee made Cell C’s prices unattractive.
Icasa has repeatedly been urged to act, but claims the convoluted law makes intervention difficult.
Now a study by Marcus has found that Icasa can force down the prices, deeply, swiftly and legally. If he is correct, Icasa must act, and chairman Paris Mashile says it will.
ECN Telecommunications, the cut-price player that commissioned the Marcus study, says 25c would cover the service’s cost. That would slash the fee by a massive 80%.