After months of consultations with the telecommunications industry, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) has announced that mobile termination rates will be halved as of March this year.
Speaking to journalists from the regulator’s head office in Sandton on Wednesday, Nomvuyiso Batyi, a councillor at ICASA, announced that the termination rates would be put on a downhill path until they reach an all-time low rate of 10 cents by 2016.
The announcement comes as the regulator and government have been pushing to reduce the cost of communications to contribute to economic growth.
“As we get down to the business of regulating this sector, our beacon is to attract local and foreign investors, and position this industry as a sector of choice,” she said.
As of Saturday 1 March, mobile termination rates – the rate charged by one operator to connect to a call to another operator – will fall from 40 cents to 20 cents.
The rate will then be dropped to 15 cents in March 2015, before being reduced to 10 cents in 2016.
“We regulate to create competition and choice for the consumer and end-users so that they can get value for money and quality of service.
“We regulate so that our young people can get opportunities not just to gain employment, but to generate employment and establish enterprises that would stimulate economic growth and opportunities,” Batyi said.
During his budget vote last year, Communications Minister Yunus Carrim said while government could not interfere in the telecommunications market itself, it would be to the benefit of the consumer and the economy to bring down the cost of communications.
ICASA has been considering further ways in which to get mobile phone operators to bring down the high cost of cell phone calls and data fees, but would need to get a directive from Cabinet.
The previous reduction saw mobile rates falling from 73 cents to 40 cents over a three-year period.
With this announcement set to favour the pocket of the consumer, Batyi commended the ICASA council for taking decisions that fulfil the agency’s legislative mandate, and said regulation of the industry should be done in the interest of the public.
“As an authority, we also regulate to ensure that the majority of our people have access to affordable electronic and ICT services wherever they are – in Orange Farm and Diepsloot, Tsolo and Pongola, Lephalale and Springbok, Thaba Nchu, Giyani or Makhado,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za