Vodacom may have won the right not to be held liable for dropped calls by the Johannesburg High Court last Friday, but it has a new adversary to deal with on the issue – Paris Mashile, Chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Speaking at the World Wide Worx’s mobility conference in Johannesburg today, Mashile said Icasa will be looking into the High Court ruling and will expect quality of service reports from the cellular networks. “I am sure that millions of Rand is made from dropped calls [by the cellular networks]... The quality of their service to consumers will need to be checked,” he says.

Mashile believes it is an issue of network congestion, one of the reasons for the introduction of happy hours. Mashile says networks therefore should either increase their network capacity or charge a flat rate. In addition, Mashile lashed out at the operators on the issue of per minute/second billing, saying Icasa would address the issue.

“I empathise with consumers on the issue of per minute billing. If someone makes a call and speaks for a few second, they are charged for the full minute or if they speak for four minutes and five seconds, they are charged for five minutes.”

Mashile says the issue needs to be addressed and per second billing should be offered by all operators (across prepaid and post paid scenarios). He warned that while some people may see Icasa as toothless, “They ain’t seen nothing yet. We will challenge anti-competitive behaviour in the market and will put offenders’ feet to the fire.”

Sajeed Sacranie, CEO of Virgin Mobile, also lashed out at Virgin’s competitors at the conference saying consumers lose 40% of airtime to per minute billing and dropped calls. Sacranie labelled his competitors “fat cats” who are “ripping the consumer off to gain super profits. And now these ‘fat cats’ are trying to resist number portability which is scheduled for the 10th of November.” He called on Icasa and consumers to do everything they could to ensure that number portability is not delayed again.