Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel. Picture: Chris Collingridge
Cape Town - Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel will make an announcement on the telecoms industry after the Competition Commission refused to prosecute Vodacom and MTN on collusive behaviour after Cell C complained.

Patel said in Parliament on Monday that he will make the announcement on Thursday when he delivers his department’s budget vote in the National Assembly.

Patel was replying to written parliamentary questions from the DA when he explained reasons why the commission refused to prosecute the two cellphone giants.

Cell C lodged the complaint in October 2013 and alleged Vodacom and MTN were involved in price fixing by making it cheaper to conduct on-net calls than off-net calls.

However, the commission said last month that following an investigation into the matter, it decided not to prosecute due to lack of sufficient evidence. Patel reiterated the commission’s statement that there would not be any prosecution of the cases.

“I have taken note of the decision of the Competition Commission in the particular matter and will address issues relating to competition in the affected market during the Economic Development budget vote in Parliament on May 25,” said Patel.

Patel did not further respond to questions from DA MP Patrick Atkinson on high data costs and cellphone costs on consumers in the country, compared to other countries in the world.

It is expected Patel will talk about this issue when he addresses Parliament and the measures put in place to regulate anti-competitive behaviour in the industry.

Read also: Vodacom, MTN won't be prosecuted

A few months ago Posts and Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele said the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa was conducting an investigation into high data costs.

It was expected to release its report, with recommendations to the minister. A number of people have complained about high data costs.

The portfolio committee on telecoms also conducted hearings last year on high data costs and various stakeholders made presentations to MPs.

MPs have pushed for tough penalties for anti-competitive behaviour in different markets following wide scale reports and investigations into collusion.

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