Are SA telecoms companies too big to regulate? One of post-apartheid’s major achievements has been the creation of a thriving mobile telephone industry based on the duopoly of MTN and Vodacom. The introduction of cellular telephony has helped millions of marginalised South Africans to participate in the mainstream economy, with the duopoly quickly filling the gap left by fixed-line operators that failed to connect poor rural communities. Most recently the duopoly has been found wanting. Instead of taking the initiative and addressing growing concerns about their role in stifling competitiveness, they have been defensive and obfuscating. They have forced the government to scrutinise their practices. A few weeks ago the Competition Commission released a damning report into what the duopoly has been up to. Fixed-line operator Telkom has just recovered from years of drifting aimlessly and is no threat. Unless it buys another cellular operator, say the struggling Cell C, or merges with ...

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