Leveling the telecoms playing field in SA

Effective regulation and asymmetric interconnect rates are vital to a vibrant telecommunications market in South Africa. This is according to Cell C CEO, Alan Knott-Craig.

Speaking to MyBroadband,  Knott-Craig said that he would love to see a knowledgeable, pro-active regulator which interacts with industry directly, and even spends time at the telecoms players’ offices.

Without a strong, independent telecoms regulator, the status quo in the SA telecoms environment is set to remain, he said.

As an example, Knott-Craig highlighted the fact that it can take days to port from one mobile provider to another in South Africa – a process which should only take an hour.

He said that it is up to the regulator to create and enforce rules to make porting faster and easier, and remove any hurdles which operators may introduce to hamper this process.

Better interconnect rates needed

Knott-Craig said that mobile termination rates (MTR aka interconnect rates) should be reduced further, and that asymmetric MTRs are sorely needed to create a more competitive environment.

The Cell C CEO said that it is virtually impossible for new entrants and smaller telecoms companies to compete against large telecoms companies without asymmetric termination rates.

Knott-Craig highlighted the fact that Telkom is currently paying close to 400% more to terminate a call on Vodacom and MTN‘s networks than the other way around.

This situation, argued Knott-Craig, should be reversed as Vodacom and MTN are the dominant market players – and not Telkom.

Knott-Craig further dismissed arguments that Cell C is not a new entrant in the market, and therefore should not benefit from asymmetric termination rates.

He said that market share and size should be the determining factor in whether asymmetry is applied, and not the age of a company.

Knott-Craig said that a termination rate of around 10c per minute for smaller players (including Telkom, Neotel, Cell C and Telkom Mobile) and a rate of around 40c per minute for Vodacom and MTN will be a fair system.

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Leveling the telecoms playing field in SA