Icasa neglects its duty

I WAS wondering why some parliamentarians described the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa as resembling the headquarters of the cellphone operators until the regulator announced that cellphone interconnection rates might only be slashed in June 2010.

I WAS wondering why some parliamentarians described the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa as resembling the headquarters of the cellphone operators until the regulator announced that cellphone interconnection rates might only be slashed in June 2010.

I am dumbfounded by the regulator's dereliction of duty.

Lest we forget, the high cost of telephony is among the major factors contributing to the high cost of doing business in our country.

This has led to investor aversion and lost job opportunities. Among the interventions to encourage economic development the government and parliamentary communications committee have taken active steps to ensure that cellphone telephony costs are slashed this month.

As hard-pressed consumers this long overdue step provided hope for relief after many years of being ripped off.

Alas, it is apparent that the cellphone operators are conspiring to extend their "creaming it" period while the bickering continues.

Even more disconcerting is Icasa emerging as a toothless bulldog. The regulator has not covered itself in glory with its pussyfooting on this matter.

Given the current financial climate, Icasa has to act decisively, Failing which the government should urgently step in to examine Icasa's lethargy, implement corrective measures and ensure that the deadline for reducing cellphone telephony rates is adhered to.

The Competition Commission must also expedite their investigation into these operators' business conduct.

The hard-pressed consumer must also find its voice. Otherwise the law of the jungle will take root in the telecoms and other economic spaces.

Mogomotsi Mogodiri, Johannesburg

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