MTN, Vodacom are state allies, says Bulbulia

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South Africa’s two largest cellular telecommunications operators, Vodacom and MTN, should be regarded as the government’s ally, not its enemy, Zunaid Bulbulia, the chief executive of MTN South Africa said. Bulbulia and his company are at the centre of a row with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) over proposed new call rates. Last week MTN SA began proceedings in the South Gauteng High Court seeking to review the regulator’s procedure for arriving at call termination rates that differed from those published in 2010. It requested that the judiciary set aside parts of the regulations it found irregular. These lower fees were scheduled to begin from March 1 and determine the tariffs operators can charge to terminate calls on each other’s networks. The rate schedule favours smaller rivals such as Cell C, to which MTN has been losing market share over the past year. Icasa said yesterday that it would delay the new rates by a month to enable the MTN litigation to be resolved. – Asha Speckman

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