Interconnection Rates to Drop Drastically in Gambia

Telecoms

The Department of State for Communication, Information and Information Technology, in conjunction with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, has declared a drastic reduction in interconnection rates between GSM mobile and fixed network operators with effect from October 8.

According to the officials, interconnection rates among all the operators in the country would be reduced from D2.50 (US$0.12)/D2.00 (US$0.10) to D1.00 (US$0.1), by October 8.

There will be a second phase to the reduction campaign as the authorities intend to bring the tariffs further down from the revised charge of D1.00 to D0.50 (US$0.025) by April 8, 2009.

However, as the international gateway is not sufficiently competitive yet, interconnection rates for international calls remain unchanged, the officials stated.

Speaking at the occasion, Fatim Badjie-Janneh, the secretary of state for Communication, Information and Information Technology, said the objective of the reduction was to create a balance between investors and consumers. She noted that it would eventually lead to a reduction in the cost of off-net calls (calls across networks). She recognised that interconnection rates for termination of calls between various telecommunication service providers were "too high".

"In recognition of such, it was felt necessary to ensure that the consumer is protected from both the financial and physical inconvenience caused by such interconnection rates," she said, noting that the decision for reduction had arrived through a consultative study, facilitated by PURA and endorsed by her department.

According to the Communication, Information and Information Technology secretary of state, this development demonstrates that her department and PURA share a common interest in policies that beneficially impact on consumers.

She noted that both institutions had agreed that in matters such as interconnection, the aim must always be to create low charges.

Rein Zwolsman, the chief executive officer of Gamcel/Gamtel, welcomed the development and said his GSM company had been collaborating with Comium to ensure cheaper rates for their consumers.

The Daily Observer