Cell C is a hypocrite and doesn’t deserve ICASA’s special treatment: Switch Telecoms

Considering the fuss Cell C made over call termination rates, the way it is handling new regulations on toll-free numbers is completely hypocritical.

That’s the word from Gregory Massel, director of Switch Telecom, who told MyBroadband that Cell C doesn’t deserve any special regulatory consideration.

Massel was referring to the higher level of asymmetry in mobile call termination rates that Cell C fought for in 2013 and 2014.

Call termination rates are the fees telecommunications operators pay one another to connect voice calls to each other’s networks.

Asymmetry refers to the allowance made in regulations for networks with less market share, Cell C and Telkom Mobile, to charge larger operators more to connect calls to their subscribers.

Under the current regulations, Cell C charges Vodacom and MTN R0.19 per minute if their subscribers call its network, while MTN and Vodacom charge Cell C R0.13 per minute.

Big asymmetry fight

When the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) first published the call termination regulations for 2014–2017, it allowed for massive levels of asymmetry.

Cell C praised the new regulations, while Vodacom and MTN fought back, eventually taking ICASA to court where a judge declared the regulations unlawful.

ICASA went back to the drawing board and came back with a new set of regulations.

This time everyone was unhappy. Vodacom didn’t like the level of asymmetry Cell C was getting, and Cell C threatened to take ICASA to court for slashing its asymmetric rates as much as it did.

In the end, Cell C dropped its application for ICASA to review the termination regulations.

Year Old mobile termination rates New mobile termination rates
Regulated rate Asymmetry Regulated rate Asymmetry
1 Oct 2014 – 30 Sep 2015 R0.20 R0.44 (120%) R0.20 R0.31 (55%)
1 Oct 2015 – 30 Sep 2016 R0.15 R0.42 (180%) R0.16 R0.24 (50%)
1 Oct 2016 – 30 Sep 2017 R0.10 R0.40 (300%) R0.13 R0.19 (46%)

Cell C charging R1.32 per minute to toll-free operators

While it would usually cost Cell C R0.13 per minute or less to terminate a call on a competitor’s network, it wants to charge R1.32 per minute (excl. VAT) to originate a call to a toll-free number.

This is more than Vodacom and MTN’s R1-per-minute reverse-bill tariff for a toll-free call, which Massel said is also too high.

For this reason, Massel feels that Cell C has lost the moral high ground when it comes to asymmetry in mobile call termination rates.

“They don’t deserve asymmetry. Come next year, when call termination regulations are reviewed, there is no longer a case Cell C can make,” said Massel.

Cell C was asked to comment on the matter, but did not respond.

Now read: Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C are killing toll-free numbers in South Africa

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Cell C is a hypocrite and doesn’t deserve ICASA’s special treatment: Switch Telecoms