The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has welcomed the ruling by the South Gauteng High Court on the Mobile Termination Regulations.
ICASA spokesperson Paseka Maleka said the regulator would come up with a way forward over the next six months.
This comes after two mobile operators, Vodacom and MTN, approached the courts to try and halt ICASA from implementing the new mobile termination rates, fees that mobile networks charge each other to connect calls, complaining that the regulator’s decision would leave a big hole in their bottom line.
On 31 March 2014, the South Gauteng High Court made a ruling to allow for a mobile termination rate of 20 cents and the asymmetric rate of 44 cents to be implemented for the next six months, effective 1 April 2014.
“We welcome the judgement and ICASA respects the rule of law and our licensees [rights] to ask the High Court to review any decision or determination that ICASA has made.
“We are committed to reducing the cost of communicating in South Africa,” Maleka said.
In January 2014, ICASA told journalists that in a bid to regulate the telecommunications environment and to bring the cost of communications down, mobile termination rates would be halved to 20 cents from last month.
ICASA’s plan was, however, put on ice due to the court challenge.
“We will have to go back and look into the regulations as per cost decision and then in the next six months we should be able to come up with a proper cost after consultation with the relevant stakeholders, including the licensees themselves,” said Maleka.
While mobile operators have indicated in media reports that they would comment once they have studied the full judgement, Telkom welcomed the ruling.
In a statement on Monday, Telkom said the court ruling was in the public’s interest.
“Within the six month period the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) must complete a costing exercise and follow due process. Telkom will support ICASA in completing this process effectively and efficiently.
“The Company believes that the ruling is in the best interest of the industry and will go far in reducing the cost to communicate for consumers and stimulating competition in the industry.”