Interconnection proposal slated

A PROPOSED agreement by mobile operators to reduce interconnection rates is "legally indefensible" and "wrong in law", the chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on communications said yesterday.

A PROPOSED agreement by mobile operators to reduce interconnection rates is "legally indefensible" and "wrong in law", the chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on communications said yesterday.

Ismail Vadi said the "practical effect" of the proposed agreement would be to tie the hands of the Independent Communications Authority of SA and prevent it from discharging its lawful responsibilities.

"The portfolio committee on communications believes that clause five of the proposed interconnection agreement tabled by mobile operators (Cell C, Vodacom and MTN) with Icasa is wrong in law," he said.

"At best it represents an attempt by operators to pre-determine interconnection rates for a prolonged period, which is both unreasonable and legally indefensible."

The mobile operators proposed a reduction in peak-time rates from R1,25 to 89c a minute in March 2010, 85c a minute in October 2011 and 80c a minute in October 2012.

The current 77c rate for the off-peak interconnection rate would remain the same until 2013.

The operators made the implementation of their proposal subject to the condition that Icasa undertook to not review mobile termination rates until March 1 2013.

But on Tuesday Icasa said it would not support the interconnection proposal and that it would first release draft regulations on the matter.

Vodacom will reduce its tariffs next month, despite Icasa rejection of its proposals.

"Vodacom is committed to the reduction of the interconnection rates as announced by the minister (of communication Sphiwe Nyanda) in November last year," company chief executive officer Pieter Uys said yesterday. - Sapa and I-Net Bridge

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