File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Johannesburg - South Africa’s communications regulator delayed the start of reduced mobile rates by two months until May 1 amid a court challenge by MTN, Africa’s largest wireless operator.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa last month proposed halving the amount mobile-phone companies pay each other to end calls on another network from March 1.

The regulator will “shortly publish” amendments to the call termination rules so that the Gauteng High Court has more time to decide on the MTN application, which was made on February 12, Johannesburg-based Icasa said in e-mailed statement today.

“Icasa has decided that it is in the public interest for the urgent application to be heard and decided on a less urgent basis,” it said. MTN’s application was enrolled for hearing on February 25, Icasa said.

MTN rose as much as 1.8 percent and traded 1.1 percent higher at 194.84 rand as of 4:21 p.m. in Johannesburg.

Vodacom, the mobile operator with the most subscribers in South Africa, climbed as much as 2.4 percent to 120.46 rand. - Bloomberg News