The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) said in a press statement on Friday, 14 February 2014 that it has decided to delay its recently announced call termination rate cuts.
According to the statement, the new commencement date will be set for 1 May 2014 instead of 1 March 2014.
Icasa said that it decided on the postponement so that the urgent application MTN lodged with the High Court could be heard on a less urgent basis.
MTN initiated court proceedings against Icasa on 12 February 2014, making good on a threat that it would take the regulator to court over the mobile termination rates it announced during January.
Termination rates are the fees that telecommunications operators pay one another to connect calls to each other’s networks.
According to Icasa, MTN’s application with the high court is complex, comprising almost 400 pages.
“Affected parties are afforded very little time to respond, in that answering affidavits are required to be filed by 18 February 2014,” Icasa said. “The urgent application was enrolled for hearing on 25 February 2014.”
Icasa said it has decided that it is in the public interest for the urgent application to be heard and decided on a less urgent basis.
“The High Court’s decision will have wide-ranging effects on the parties and the public at large, including subscribers for telecommunications services,” Icasa said.
“As such, it is important that the High Court is fully informed of all the relevant issues before making its decision and it is therefore necessary that the affected parties have sufficient time to properly prepare their answering papers, particularly given the complexity of the matter,” Icasa said.
To this end, Icasa said it will shortly publish the Call Termination Amendment Regulations, 2014 (the Amendment Regulations).
Icasa said that in terms of the Electronic Communications Act, 2005 (the ECA), it may publish these regulations without following the processes described in section 4(4) of the ECA where the public interest requires that a regulation should be made without delay.
It is these Amendment Regulations that will change the commencement date of the new call termination regulations from 1 March 2014 to 1 May 2014.
They will also extend the operation of the Call Termination Regulations, 2010/11, Icasa said.