ICASA must reduce telecoms charges quickly: Minister

SA’s communications minister says that ICASA and the operators must do more to reduce communications costs in South Africa

By - February 13, 2012
Department of Communications South Africa (DoC)

Communications minister Dina Pule says that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) must make sure that telephony and communications must be reduced ‘very quickly’. Pule added that they are re-assessing the ICASA structure to ensure better regulation in the ICT sector.

Speaking to CNBC, the minister said that the Department of Communications (DoC) is currently looking at the structure of ICASA and questioning whether ICASA’s current structure suits South Africa’s telecoms regulatory needs.

“We are beginning to want to look at the structure of ICASA,” said Pule. “We must ask ourselves whether the structure that we have is assisting us and the industry to regulate. Is it right that we have the nine councilors? Do we need the nine councilors or do we need less?”

“We have begun to discuss these issues, and ICASA has brought the first draft of their recommendations of what they want us [the DoC] to do,” said Pule.

Pule added that she will meet with ICASA next week to discuss their recommendations.

Expectation from ICASA

The communications minister said that she expects ICASA to bring consumers and businesses lower telephony and communication costs.

“People have been crying to me and saying ‘minister when are you going to help us to reduce the cost of telephony and the cost to communicate’. ICASA must really come very quick there,” said Pule.

Pule said that lower interconnect rates (wholesale voice termination rates) have helped to lower prices, but added that a lot more needs to be done.

“We need to monitor if the operators are indeed implementing the agreements which we have with them,” said Pule.

Pule said that she has been meeting with operators, trying to find out what stops them from reducing prices and rolling out services in rural areas.

According to Pule the operators told her that they can do more, and offered to do more in the rural areas.

“After I finalized my meetings with all of them [the operators] I will then be able to tell you where we are heading to,” said Pule.

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