Icasa chair Rubben Mohlaloga. Picture: THOBEKA ZAZI NDABULA
Icasa chair Rubben Mohlaloga. Picture: THOBEKA ZAZI NDABULA

Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has rejected claims by players in the telecommunications industry that it gave them insufficient time to comment on draft regulations to amend wholesale call-termination rates.

Icasa amended call termination rates at the end of September in order to reduce the costs to communicate and enhance competition in the industry. The new rates took effect from October 1. On Friday the authority published the reasons for its decision in the government gazette, stating why it accepted or rejected specific submissions made by stakeholders.

MTN, Telkom, Vodacom and Cell C were among those that made oral presentations to Icasa on the draft call-termination regulations which were gazetted on August 16.

Icasa chairman Rubben Mohlalogo noted in the statement that stakeholders in the industry had complained that Icasa had not provided them with sufficient time to analyse the draft regulations in order to make meaningful submissions. They claimed that the short public comment period, of 21 days, was prejudicial to them. They also believed that the Icasa proceedings were completed with “undue haste”.

Commenting on these criticisms Mohlalogo said that the process to amend the call termination regulations began in January 2017, with the cost modelling exercise getting underway in October 2017.

“There had been numerous one-on-one meetings with stakeholders in addition to multiple opportunities for stakeholders to make written submissions on the cost modelling exercise between October 2017 and July 2018,” he said.

“During this consultation period, stakeholders requested extensions on a number of occasions, some of which the authority acceded to.” He said Icasa was of the view that the 10-month consultation period and the 21-day period after the draft call termination regulations were published was sufficient for stakeholders to raise their concerns.

The amendments set out a glide path for operators with more than a 20% share of total minutes terminated in the wholesale voice market from a call at a fixed location: 9c from October 2018 to September 2019; 7c for the period October 2019 to September 2020; and 6c from October 2020 onwards. The charge for terminating a call at a mobile location would be 12c from October 2018 to September 2019; 10c for the period October 2019 to September 2020; and 9c from October 2020 onwards.

For operators with 20% or less share of total minutes terminated in the wholesale voice market, the glide path period would be as follows: 18c from October 2018 to September 2019; 16c for the period October 2019 to September 2020; and 13c from October 2020 onwards. A charge for terminating a call at a fixed location would be 10c from October 2018 to September 2019; 8c for the period October 2019 to September 2020; 6c from October 2020 onwards.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za