The Right2Know Campaign welcomes the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (ICASA) proposals to reduce cell phone wholesale call termination rates from the current 40c/minute to 20c/minute in March 2014 and 10c/minute by 2016.
Once these reductions are passed onto users we should see a reduction in call charges – currently amongst the highest in the world. We further welcome ICASA’s intervention to limit the dominance of MTN and Vodacom by proposing asymmetrical termination rates that will allow companies with less that 20% market share to charge dominant operators more to access their networks. This could break the stranglehold that the duopoly currently have on the industry.
Historically MTN and Vodacom benefitted from asymmetric interconnection rates for years – to the extreme disadvantage of Telkom and subsequently Cell C so the proposed proposing asymmetrical rates could go some way to right this wrong.
ICASA will hold hearings on their proposals and will come under pressure from the dominant operators to soften their position. The Right2Know Campaign will continue to mobilise to oppose profiteering and advance the right to communicate. We will continue to struggle to ensure that information flows across society and that information forms the basis of a social dialogue that deepens our democracy and advances social, economic, and environmental justice.
The Right2Know will continue to build our Vula ‘ma connexion campaign to advance the right to communicate for all:
- Communications must be universal. Everyone has a right to communications that are available and affordable;
- Everyone should get a free basic amount of airtime and data in the same way that we have free basic water and electricity;
- All SMS’s should be free as they cost the operators almost nothing to transmit;
- ICASA must regulate the cost of airtime and data to stop profiteering;
- Pre-paid communication users should not cross-subsidise post-paid users;
- SMS and data bundles should not expire if they are unused;
- Cell phone companies must improve the quality of service, including network outages, dropped calls, calls that don’t connect, data coverage, etc;
- The range of numbers that are free to call (like the police and ambulance) should be increased to include our children’s schools, hospitals, etc;
- Parliament must ensure an efficient and well-funded regulator.