MTN, Vodacom challenge Icasa in court

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Johannesburg - Cellphone network operators MTN and Vodacom will continue to challenge the introduction of new asymmetrical call termination rates in the Johannesburg High Court on Monday.

These are the rates that operators have to pay one another for calls to other networks.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) wants to implement a set of regulations that would see these rates dropped to 10 cents per minute in 2016.

For 2014, MTN and Vodacom would have to pay 44 cents a minute to smaller operators, while the smaller companies would have to pay only 20 cents, in an asymmetrical structure.

MTN and Vodacom want the 2014 regulations scrapped.

Alternatively, they want interim relief to prevent the introduction of the new rates until they have been reviewed.

Kate Hofmeyer, for Cell C, had argued in the last court appearance that if MTN and Vodacom were granted interim relief through the court suspending Icasa's 2014 regulations, this would result in the market being unregulated.

Hofmeyer said the legal teams for MTN and Vodacom had argued that interim relief would preserve the status quo, but this was “a fundamental error” on their part.

David Unterhalter, SC, for Icasa, dwelt on the dangers of an unregulated mobile environment and the big players' behaviour before Cell C began, which made it difficult for the newcomer to compete. - Sapa

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