Mobile operators finalise revised rate agreements

MOBILE phone operators finalised revised interconnection rate agreements yesterday and sent them to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.

Last week when Icasa rejected a voluntary agreement by all three cellular networks to reduce interconnection rates in a staggered process over three years, the operators were forced to go back to the drawing board.

Nicolene Visser, communications manager at Vodacom, said Vodacom had also signed amended agreements with MTN and Cell C.

"These are now with Icasa for consideration," she said. "The agreement proposes a reduction of the mobile termination rate from R1,25 to 89 cents. However, there aren't any conditions attached."

Late in the afternoon Cell C confirmed that it had also signed the revised agreement, which would be sent to Icasa for consideration. This came after an announcement on Monday by MTN that it had already finalised an interconnection agreement with Vodacom and Cell C.

In the revised agreement, the MTR would still be reduced from R1,25 to 89c a minute as Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda said late last year.

Jubie Matlou, Icasa spokesperson, said the operators tried to "bind the authority to an undertaking not to review mobile termination rates until March 2013".

The operators will reduce interconnection rates voluntarily next month with further reductions in October 2011 (85 cents), October 2010 (80 cents) leaving the off-peak rate at 77 cents.