South Africa’s third mobile operator Cell C has rejected claims that it owes the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa R107.3 million in outstanding licence fees, saying further that the allegations have damaged its reputation.
This follows comments made in Parliament on 30 April 2013 by Shadow Minister of Communications for the Democratic Alliance (DA), Marian Shinn, regarding outstanding licence fees owed to the watchdog by companies and state departments, totaling R501 million.
Shinn wrote that five companies were involved in other electronic communication-related disputes – including Cell C, who Shinn said owes R107,278,168 in disputes.
“Cell C would like to set the record straight…Cell C has never been advised by Icasa that it owes R107.3 million or any other amount in outstanding licence fees and, accordingly, Cell C denies that it owes this amount,” the operator said.
According to Cell C, the comments were made on the back of information provided to the Minister by Icasa.
Cell C said that, following comments made in Parliament, it sent a letter to Icasa on 2 May 2013 demanding urgent written confirmation of Icasa’s position and that Cell C is not in default of any licence fee obligations.
“Icasa has failed to respond as it appears to be unable to verify its own information,” the operator said.
“Icasa’s failure to respond and set the record straight publicly is having a negative impact on Cell C’s reputation and leaves Cell C with no choice but to make its own public statement in this regard.
“Cell C notes that in a similar vein, despite in February 2013 having announced that it would begin a market review related to the high cost to communicate, Icasa has failed to commence this review, and consumers and Cell C continue to be negatively impacted,” Cell C said said in a statement.
According to Shinn, Icasa has come under pressure from the Auditor-General and parliament’s portfolio committee on communications for its inadequate monitoring and accounting systems that have resulted in woefully inadequate collection of fees due for the application of and use of radio spectrum.
“Late last year, Icasa embarked on a vigorous audit of licensees and their use of spectrum,” Shinn said.