South Africa: Telkom Mobile argues for asymmetrical interconnect rate as it takes on all three existing operators


Incoming Telkom Mobile is entering the mobile market swinging, not only taking on MTN, but now also Vodacom and Cell C in its fight for an asymmetrical interconnect rate of 93c per minute.
Last week, it was revealed that Telkom and MTN were at loggerheads over Telkom's proposed rate of 93c per minute, with MTN insisting on maintaining its standard rate of 89c. The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) has intervened in the matter, which will be heard at the end of this month.
But the fight doesn't stop there, as Telkom prepares to take on the rest of the mobile industry as well. Telkom this morning confirmed it is in similar disputes with mobile operators Vodacom and Cell C, and would likely follow a similar course of action as that undertaken with MTN.
The fixed-line operator maintains its actions are justified if it is to ensure a competitive offering in the market. “The terms proposed by Telkom include a reasonable mobile termination rate (MTR) that reflects Telkom's mobile network cost as a new entrant to the mobile market. Telkom needs a reasonable MTR in order to be able to compete in the South African mobile space and offer subscribers attractive retail rates,” says the company.
Telkom has committed to having its mobile offering fully operational before the end of the year. However, the time required to resolve Telkom's dispute with the mobile operators will likely extend into next year, as the authority need only submit its ruling 90 days after the hearings.
So far, only MTN's case has been scheduled for 30 September. Telkom's dispute with Cell C and Vodacom has not yet been heard by ICASA, and a date not yet been set. Nonetheless, the Telkom is still confident it will be in a position to unveil its mobile service this year as it has in the interim entered into interconnect agreements with the mobile operators.
If ICASA has not yet ruled by the time Telkom Mobile starts operating, the interim agreement of a symmetrical 89c per minute will come it to play. However, Telkom is clear this is subject to ICASA's ruling and may change if the ruling is favourable to Telkom.