‘Costs of communicating have to drop’

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Yunus Carrim1 GCIS Communications Minister Yunus Carrim. Photo: Katlholo Maifadi, GCIS.

Johannesburg - The costs of communicating have to drop, Communications Minister Yunus Carrim said on Wednesday.

“Clearly, the costs have to come down. It's not just in the interests of the poor and disadvantaged but the economy as a whole,” Carrim said in a statement following a meeting with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa).

“We urge the mobile operators to co-operate with Icasa in providing the necessary information and in other ways to ensure that this process is finalised expeditiously.”

He said the meeting was to discuss progress made on the broadband value chain analysis study, feedback on the mobile termination rates, and regulatory measures required to implementing “SA Connect”.

SA Connect is South Africa's broadband policy.

The main item discussed was Icasa's progress on the cost-study analysis on mobile termination rates after a court decision in March, Carrim said.

“They requested more resources from us and we agreed in principle to give them appropriate support,” he said.

“We remain fully supportive of Icasa's work on lowering the cost to communicate, without, of course, interfering in its independence.”

On March 31, the High Court in Johannesburg ruled that new call termination rates proposed by Icasa were invalid and unlawful.

The court gave Icasa six months to amend its regulations.

Carrim said the meeting also discussed the judgment and the plan to meet the deadline.

“We remain fully supportive of Icasa's work on lowering the cost to communicate, without, of course, interfering in its independence,” Carrim said.

“In fact, a major issue raised in the public hearings on the ICT Green Paper throughout the country has been the high cost to communicate. And, of course, the parliamentary committee is unanimous in its support for the Icasa regulations.”

MTN and Vodacom took Icasa to court on an urgent basis to stop it from implementing a regulation on mobile termination rates. These are the rates operators pay one another for calls to other networks.

MTN and Vodacom would have had to pay 44c a minute to smaller operators, while the smaller companies would have had to pay only 20c. - Sapa

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