Spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso confirmed various media reports that the department wanted to see interconnection rates – which cellphone operators pay each other for switching a call between networks — to drop by 30c, from R1.25 to R0.95 by the end of November.
“The discussion [with operators] has been taking place for quite a while and there hasn’t been any movement,” said Rikhotso.
“Hence we as a department would like to see this issue resolved as soon as possible.”
Over the next year the department would like to see the interconnection fee cut to 60c.
“There is no disagreement as far as the issue [of needing to cut costs] is concerned. What we are dealing with is the figure [by how much calls are cut] and by when we need to slash the costs now.”
Rikhotso said the department would ask the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to issue a directive to operators on how much and when to cut costs.
“It needs to issue some directive… It issues licences so therefore should have the power to determine what kind of charges [are made for calls],” Rikhotso said.
Parliament’s communications portfolio committee was expected to meet cellphone operators on Tuesday.
This follows from last month’s call, during a National Assembly communications committee meeting, for Icasa to use its powers to set a concrete timetable for this.
At the time ANC MP Johnny de Lange proposed the cellphone industry appear before the committee to explain the problems it faced, the costs it charged, and to account for the profits made.
South Africa’s cellphone rates are among the highest in the world.
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