Cell C takes Vodacom, MTN to the Competition Commission

Cell C has formally lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission on Tuesday (8 October 2013), against the dominant incumbent mobile operators, MTN and Vodacom, for anti-competitive conduct.

Speaking at the 2013 MyBroadband Conference, Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig said that Vodacom and MTN are abusing their dominant market positions with far lower on-net calls.

Knott-Craig vowed to fight against the unfair practices and poor policies in the country’s telecoms space.

According to Cell C, the crux of the complaint relates to the manner in which the dominant incumbents discriminate between their on-net and off-net effective prices, which has a dramatic and direct impact on smaller operators’ ability to acquire new customers.

“The two dominant incumbents discount their effective on-net prices substantially while charging a premium for their customers to call off-net. This amounts to discriminatory pricing and is without doubt anti-competitive when adopted by dominant operators,” said Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig.

Alan Knott-Craig Snr
Cell C CEO, Alan Knott-Craig

Cell C has been fiercely competing on all fronts with the ultimate aim of driving down prices for the consumer, which is also beneficial for Cell C.

“Customers that call off-net are being penalised often without them realising it. With number portability, customers don’t always know if they are calling on- or off-net anymore, so they don’t actually know what rate they are paying,” said Knott-Craig.

According to a statement by Cell C, in many mobile markets around the world, regulators are opposed to differential on-net and off-net pricing, and in some instances, dominant mobile network operators are facing stiff fines for this kind of discriminatory pricing, which locks in customers and prevents switching.

The operator highlighted instances in France, Papua New Guinea and Nigeria, where competition authorities took action against dominant telecoms players for similar behaviour.

“All of these cases support Cell C’s position in its Competition Commission complaint,” the mobile operator said.

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Cell C takes Vodacom, MTN to the Competition Commission