Calls for public submissions on high interconnection rates

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cape Town - The Portfolio Committee on Communications has called on the public to make written submissions on the measures to reduce interconnection rates and high costs of telecommunications in South Africa.

The committee said last week it would hold public hearings to have mobile operators bring down what it described as "excessive and exorbitant" interconnection rates.

South Africans are currently paying R1.25 per minute during peak times for their interconnection fee, a charge to enable calls to be transmitted from each other's networks, resulting in high telecommunication prices.

The committee believes that the high rates are a consequence of apparent historical collusion between dominant mobile operators in the country and that the high costs of mobile and fixed line telecommunications has impacted adversely on the South African economy and negatively on citizens, particularly the poor and marginalised.

According to the committee's Chairperson, Ismail Vadi, the written submissions must speak to the proposal of the Portfolio Committee on Communications.

This proposal makes provision mobile and telecoms operators to reduce interconnection rates with effect from 1 November 2009 to 60 cents per minute during peak times.

It further wants interconnection rates to be reduced by 15 cents annually on 1 November for each successive year until 2012 and that this should result in reductions in the actual retail prices of telecommunications.

Based on the written submissions, the committee will invite selected stakeholders to come and make oral representations on 13 and 14 October 2009 in Parliament.

Comments can be emailed to the Committee Secretaries Noluthando Skaka at nskaka@parliament.gov.za and Bulelwa Madikane at bmadikane@parliament.gov.za by not later than 2 October 2009 at noon.

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