THERE is something to be both celebrated and mourned about the announcement that the cellphone companies will not reduce their interconnection fees before, at the earliest, the first quarter of next year.
We have to celebrate that the government has finally forced the phone companies to come to their senses.
As it is, South African cellphone costs are the third highest in the world after Mexico and Turkey. It might be delayed but there is no doubt that the fees will be lower than they are at present.
We have to mourn that the talks collapsed, so the muchanticipated early Christmas break will have to be deferred.
Talks between Vodacom and MTN collapsed after the two had agreed on a reduction of 19 percent in the blended interconnection rate (average peak and off-peak rate) but the two operators had refused to provide a specific breakdown of how much they believed peak and off-peak rates should be.
We also have to bemoan the unsatisfactory level of social activism relating to the process. It has been left largely to Icasa, the three mobile phone networks and the Ministry of Communication.
Cellphone companies have been getting away with exorbitantly high fees because we, the consumers, have allowed them. Even as talks fail the voice of the consumer remains mute.
Our apathy and indifference has only benefitted corporate greed, not only in the cellphone space, to extort as much as they can from consumers who have chosen the expensive option of helplessness.