Interconnection tariffs rules to be reviewed in Namibia

Telecoms

The Minister of Informational and Communication Technology has confirmed The Namibian's exposé that he restrained telecommunications operators to make public statements on their anti-competitive behaviour.

The Namibian reported that Minister Joel Kaapanda reined in Telecom Namibia, Cell One and MTC. He instructed them to stop the ongoing public squabbles over interconnect tariffs.

Last month Telecom Namibia and Cell One ganged up against MTC for what they described as "exorbitant" interconnect tariffs charged by MTC to its subscribers for calling Telecom and Cell One networks.

Despite claims of exorbitant charges, the minister exonerated all three players, saying "none of the players are in violation of the basic rules as provided for in law in conducting their business. I am comfortable in the knowledge that all companies are adhering to good business practices in the interest of the customers and the public."

MTC charges N$3.35 per minute from its subscribers when they call a landline (Telecom Namibia), while Cell One charges N$1.79. Cell One customers pay N$1.06 per minute when they call an MTC subscriber.

MTC scheduled a press conference for Wednesday last week to respond to allegations of exorbitant charges by Telecom and Cell One, but called off the briefing after the Minister wrote a letter to all three operators to desist from making public statement on the matter.

"I want to express my profound appreciation to all operators and the NCC [Namibia Communication Commission] for positively considering my request for restraint in making further media statement on this matter," Kaapanda said on Friday.

He said that his ministry plans to convene a meeting with the main operators to agree on exploring an alternative interconnect regime that is "fair, economically viable" and is "benchmarked along the best practices both in the SADC region and other developed markets".

The minister however did not give a time frame for when exactly the meeting will take place.

The Namibian